This morning’s must-read is an analysis by POLITICO’s James Hohmann, who writes about vulnerable Democrats’ 2014 President Obama problem.
As Democrats try to keep their lock on the Senate next year, some of their most vulnerable incumbents have a problem with President Obama: They can’t win with him, but they probably can’t win without him, either. The party desperately needs African-American voters to vote in numbers approaching last year’s turnout. Embracing Obama and his divisive health care law would no doubt help – the legislation is popular with the Democratic base, particularly among minorities. But get too close to the president and Democrats on the 2014 ballot could alienate white swing voters who hold the key to the midterms, which inherently favor Republicans. T
he problem is most acute for three Southern Democratic senators from states with large black populations that Obama lost in November: Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, North Carolina’s Kay Hagan and Arkansas’s Mark Pryor. Republicans need to pick up six seats to win the Senate, and the red-state Democrats, who all voted for Obamacare, top the GOP’s target list. This same dynamic worries House Democrats …
“Nationally in 2012, blacks voted at higher rates than whites for the first time. … 66.2 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots in 2012, up from 64.7 percent in 2008. … A year-and-a-half out from the election, Pryor is already feeling the vise tighten. Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group is airing radio and TV spots attacking the Arkansan for breaking with Obama on background checks for firearms purchases last month … The group announced it would target the state’s African-American community, ‘without which Mark Pryor doesn’t have a prayer of getting reelected,’ said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. On the other side, the conservative Club for Growth is already airing ads that describe Pryor as ‘Obama’s best ally in Arkansas.’ Obama lost the state by 24 points.
… Obamacare may be the thorniest issue for the three. The law is a big liability with white independent voters and may become more so as inevitable problems crop up with its implementation. But the president’s namesake is beloved by the black community.”