The law of diminishing returns has set in to President Obama’s Hollywood fundraising — or at least that’s the fear on the left coast:
Some of the president’s most ardent entertainment industry supporters quietly tell The Hollywood Reporter that while they realize he needs to deploy all of his weapons to compete with deep-pocketed Republican super PACs, they fear the increasing reliance on stars and celebrity contests could backfire with swing voters and mobilize the right.
“We don’t like what he’s doing, but we understand it,” says one Hollywood fund-raising insider. “He has to raise the money. It’s a bad situation.”
Obama’s small donors are sitting out, putting him in this bind. And why are they sitting out? Partly, because he no longer seems the Man of the People he appeared to be in 2008. And that’s the rub — the more distant he seems, the more he must rely on Hollywood, making him seem even more distant. It’s cool when the President hangs out with George Clooney. It’s not so cool when that’s all he does.
That dovetails nicely with David Paul Kuhn’s piece in RCP today, pointing out that Obama’s white support is cratering:
Today, fewer whites back Obama than any Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale. Romney does not need to emulate Ronald Reagan to win. Should he match Reagan’s share of the white vote in 1984 — presuming all else remains constant since 2008 — Romney would rout Obama.
Of course, America has changed since Reagan. Non-Hispanic whites were 89 percent of the electorate when Reagan first won the White House in 1980. They were 85 percent in 1988. By 2008, whites were 74 percent. That shift has upended the electoral landscape. But only so much.
Remember one other little tidbit from Kuhn, the next time somebody on MSNBC plays the race card. Four years ago, Obama did better with white voters than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter in 1976. He earned that vote last time around, with an excellent campaign (and a few major assists from the Complicit Media). But years of bad priorities, a dismal economic record, and blatant race-baiting have given whites second thoughts. Obama is now gaining only 37% in Kuhn’s poll numbers.
Speaking of dismal, Andrew Malcolm found a story right out of the Great Depression:
A Panera sandwich shop on Chicago’s North Side removed its regular prices Thursday and now posts only suggested donations. People pay what they can, maybe a little more than suggested, maybe a little less. If some have no money, they can help clean the store for an hour to earn a meal.
When you want to illustrate why nearly two-thirds of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, there you go. By the way, I’m not faulting Panera; that restaurant manager is doing a noble thing. It’s just a shame that he has to do it.
Sean Trende, one of the smartest guys around, says it’s way too early for Democrats to panic:
Should Democrats be concerned? Absolutely. But any panic is grossly premature. To start with, Romney trails the president, albeit narrowly, in the RCP Average. This puts Obama in a better position than Al Gore, who trailed George W. Bush by four points in Gallup in June. It puts him in a better position than Bill Clinton in 1992, who trailed George H.W. Bush by six points in June. It puts him in a better position than Bush 41 in 1988, who trailed Michael Dukakis by nine points in June, and Ronald Reagan, who trailed Jimmy Carter by a pair in 1980.
The 1992 election might not be a very good example, since the entrance and exit and re-entrance of Ross Perot kept the polls churning all spring and summer. During June of that year, the time of the poll Trende mentions, Perot was the leader, not Bush. Perot voters defaulted for the most part back to Clinton when Perot (temporarily) quit the next month.
Al Gore might not be a very good example, either. In 2000, people were mostly satisfied with how the country was doing, aside from the bursting of the Dot Com Bubble. Nonetheless, Gore ran away from Clinton’s record, and embraced an awkward kind of lefty populism. And had it not been for the October Surprise of Bush’s drunk driving record, Gore probably wouldn’t have caught that swell of undecided voters. I’m thinking we’re not going to find much drunken driving in Romney’s past.
But Trende is right on the broader point, that it’s not time for Dems to panic. The problem isn’t that the White House is panicking. The problem is that the White House seems oblivious to the potential for disaster. Or if they aren’t oblivious, then they are at least clueless about how to change to a winning strategy.
The big worry for Team Obama ought to be what to do if the Supremes overturn ObamaCare. The thinking has been, near as I can tell, that O-Care is a wash this year. RomneyCare in Massachusetts was the same thing, they say, so nominating Mitt took the issue of the table. But the Supremes are about to serve it right back up. A legal victory could turn into a political loss in November. And if O-Care is overturned, then everyone will know that the President fiddled with health care while the economy burned.
This looks very much like a no-win for Obama. it was his Justice Department which fast-tracked the case to the Supreme Court, which might prove to have been a supreme folly.
So, no, the Democrats don’t need to panic yet, but the signs of panic are all there. By the end of summer, we might witness the world’s first nuclear-armed circular firing squad.
I’m not getting cocky. I am stocking up on popcorn.