Base Problems

BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller looks at the Obama campaign’s attempt to bring health-care reform into the spotlight for the first time since the “shellacking” Democrats received in the 2010 midterm elections:

The new case, though, is less factual, and more emotional. It emerged first in the 17-minute “documentary” the campaign released last week, narrated by Tom Hanks. […]

The campaign also commissioned a pair of “Face of Change” videos portraying ordinary Americans helped by the reform bill. One includes a North Carolina mother, Rebecca Freiert, retelling the story of having to reduce her infant son’s insurance coverage in the face of a $100 premium hike, which the Affordable Care Act reversed.

Miller correctly notes that this is partly out of necessity and partly a response to opportunity. By virtue of taking the case, the Supreme Court has placed the Affordable Care Act in the public eye and forced the administration to defend it in a big way. What’s more, the recent fight over reproductive health care for women has made that defense a lot easier; the administration can tout the ACA—and its provisions for equal access—as it attempts to draw women away from the Republican Party.

With all of that said, I want to highlight this quote from a Romney campaign spokesperson, which I thought was quite revealing:

Republicans, however, see the Obama campaign’s move over the last week toward talking again about health care as a sign of political weakness, and an acknowledgement that at least part of the campaign will be fought on what polls still suggest is very much enemy turf.

“It’s definitely a winning issue for us,” said top aide to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Obama is returning to the issue, the Romney aide said, “because he has base problems — he just can’t get them excited again.” [Emphasis mine]

In the latest Gallup tracking poll, President Obama scores 87 percent approval from liberal Democrats and 85 percent approval from Democrats overall. According to the most recent survey from the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of Democrats (and 53 percent of independents) have a favorable view of the president, while only 58 percent of Republicans say the same of Mitt Romney. Moreover, only 55 percent of Rick Santorum supporters say they would support Romney strongly if he is the nominee. Then there’s the fact that after three months and every possible advantage, Romney continues to struggle against an off-brand politician who can’t even manage ballot access, much less run a competent campaign. The former Massachusetts governor is almost winning by default and still can’t seal the deal.

Projection notwithstanding, if there’s anyone in this race with “base problems,” it’s clearly Mitt Romney. We’re still waiting to see if he can get past them.