Today, Obama said 28 words that 2014 Dems from coast to coast wish he didn’t say, “I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them." So much for all those Dems trying to convince voters they aren’t Obama’s rubberstamps.
Here are the four sentences that will draw all of the attention (they come more than two thirds of the way through the speech): "I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them." Boil those four sentences down even further and here's what you are left with: "Make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them."
You can imagine Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas or Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina or Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky grimacing when they heard those 28 words. That trio has spent much of the campaign insisting that this election is NOT about Barack Obama, that it is instead about a choice between themselves and their opponents.
The reason for this distancing strategy is obvious: President Obama is deeply unpopular in many of the states that will decide which party controls the majority in 2015. Of the seven seats rated "toss ups" by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, Obama lost four of them (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina) in 2012. He also lost in three Democratic-held open seats -- Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia -- now viewed as sure-thing pickups for Republicans. If Republicans only won Democratic-held seats where Obama lost in 2012, they would pick up 7 seats -- one more than they need to recapture the majority.
As the Washington Post's Chris Cilizza concludes, "It doesn't take a political mastermind to realize that an ad in which the President of the United States says "Make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them" might not be helpful to the Democratic candidates trying to run away from him this November."