ALEX SINK, NOT BETWEEN TWO FERNS
When I first learned about President Obama's mock-interview on Funny or Die's Between Two Ferns, I thought it wasn't about -- or wasn't just about -- getting the show's young audience interested in Obamacare. I thought it was the president doing what he did throughout 2012 -- keeping himself visible and making himself seem appealing to the kinds of Americans who are inclined to like him, and likely to lean liberal, but not necessarily motivated to vote. Obama did a lot of politically non-traditional things to reach out to these people in 2012, and it worked on Election Day. I assume he's looking at the polls for 2014 and thinking he needs to motivate these folks again.
Note also that the First Lady appeared on The Tonight Show a couple of weeks ago, during Jimmy Fallon's first week as host. I'm expecting a lot more of this between now and November.
The problem, of course, is that the president isn't going to be on the ballot in November, so I wonder how much good this can do. It didn't do much good in today's special House election in Florida's 13th District -- some observers and polls predicted a win by Democrat Alex Sink, but the winner was the Republican, David Jolly. Yes, it was a close race -- but I worry that a lot of the toss-ups are going to go the Republicans' way, because Democrats just don't turn out in non-presidential years, even when the president is making unconventional, headline-grabbing media appearances.
The right-wing noise machine keeps Republicans so fired up about conservatism that they regularly turn out to vote for the Republican brand. The Democratic brand inspires much less loyalty. If the president is trying to pump up turnout by being seen outside the realm of politics, well, good for him for trying. But I think it's going to take more than that.