Gallup has a not-so-encouraging chart:

Dem Enthusiasm

To be sure, there’s much time left to go till the election, and I would expect Obama’s re-election campaign to remind people of the stakes next year. But it’s pretty stunning nonetheless, and speaks for itself.

One could immediately pivot from this to bemoaning Democrats destroying themselves at any opportunity. But thinking about it, I have to wonder: considering the past eight months, what exactly should Democrats be enthusiastic about? The past year has been a deliberate case of giving Democrats what they don’t want in order to win over “independents”, and getting neither in the process. Obviously, Obama was going to have to make compromises that liberals don’t like to deal with Republicans in Congress, everyone knew that. But he forgot himself and his base for much of the year, and what does your typical Democrat really have to look forward to from Obama II? In all likelihood, Republicans will control one (at least) branch of Congress after the election, and they understand Obama a lot better than he understands them. He actually thought that Boehner would be able to deliver a grand bargain, lest we forget! And wrecked the image of himself as a strong leader trying to get it. I still hope Obama can turn it around, but if he doesn’t, that will be considered the point where it all went bad, of this I’m certain.

Additionally, I don’t think this is another Al Gore 2000 situation. Parts of the left unwisely decided to ensure Gore’s defeat by going third-party, which in retrospect (and even at the time) made little strategic sense. It minimized the danger of the right at that time. But I don’t think that that’s what is happening today. I think Democrats are generally afraid of what Republicans plan to do if they get more power, I strongly suspect they just don’t think Obama is strong enough to stop them after Debtceilingdammerung. To some extent, this sentiment is the fault of Democrats not appreciating the constraints that the system imposes upon Obama. He can’t just declare the American Jobs Act law. But, additionally, there is an extent to which this is Obama neglecting his duties as party leader and not giving his troops a reason to fight, choosing rather to go after Bill Daley’s vision of what independents want, and trusting Tim Geithner’s lock-solid view of politics. Shockingly, trusting a second-tier Clinton Administration apparatchik and the guy behind the bailouts didn’t yield boffo political success. Put simply, maintaining morale is an important part of leadership. It goes both ways is all I’m saying.

Again, I can’t stress this enough, this is just one data point. Who knows where it winds up? But I can’t really blame liberals for not being enthusiastic about next year’s election. When you get down to it, Obama didn’t really try to change Washington during his first term, his plan was like Patrick Swayze’s from Road House (i.e. “Be Nice”), but without the asskicking ability to back that up. And Washington is the same as ever, if not more so. It’s hard to get pumped up over an indefinite* future of shitty compromises, gleefully violated political norms and routinely botched gestures. Why is that enticing? Especially since Obama shows little interest in doing anything about it, not even standing up to unprecedented obstruction of uncontroversial nominees. Admittedly, a totally GOP-run Washington is much worse than that, but those two choices are enough to depress a person altogether.

Happy Friday!

*Not really indefinite, considering the aging GOP demographics, but it sure seems that way now.

(hat tip: Mistermix)

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