Two years after his coattails helped sweep two dozen Democrats into office, President Obama is proving more a boon to Republicans than to Democrats during the midterm elections. His poll numbers are so morose that Democrats are planning ways to avoid his shadow, while Republicans plot strategies aimed at tying Obama to every incumbent member of Congress they can.
The advice from Democratic consultants and strategists is almost unanimous: Run away from the president, and fast. A prominent Democratic pollster is circulating a survey that shows George W. Bush is 6 points more popular than President Obama in “Frontline” districts — seats held by Democrats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees as most vulnerable to Republican takeover. That Bush is more popular than Obama in Democratic-held seats is cause for outright fear.
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But disassociating oneself from an incumbent president is never easy, and Democrats have to walk a narrow line. Based on conversations with more than a dozen Democratic political operatives, here’s some advice for candidates looking to chart their own course, one that will send them back to the 112th Congress:
• Walk, Don’t Run: “He is a walking radioactive disaster,” one senior Democratic operative said of the president. But any effort to seriously distance oneself from Obama is dangerous for an incumbent; go too hard against the president and voters think the candidate is faking it…