Here's a story from The Hill:
The election is coming, the election is coming!Yeah? Is that the plan?
That's the message coming from President Obama as he tries desperately to rouse Democrats out of a midterm election stupor that could cost his party control of the Senate -- and bury his agenda once and for all....
... at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in Boston, Obama said poor turnout could lead the party's candidates to get "walloped."
... A White House official says that the president will look to "set the terms" of the election by focusing on his economic policy message, and repeatedly contrasting that with Republican policies designed to benefit wealthy Americans....
Promoting a hike in the minimum wage is what [Democrats] seem to have latched onto, and that's not bad. But to really break through, the Democrats need something bolder. Wiping out college debt or rescheduling marijuana as a safer drug are two things that could energize young people. They also need to go on offense with health care. Defensiveness over the Affordable Care Act could be disastrous.I think the president overestimates the usefulness, especially at this point, of "focusing on his economic policy message." BooMan talks about "pitching populist policies, even if they aren't immediately achievable" -- but that's just the problem: they aren't achievable. Voters know that. They voted to reelect Obama in 2012 in the hope that he'd be able to get some of his policies enacted in a second term, and now they see he hasn't done it. I think restating the Democratic wish list, or even adding some of the items BooMan recommends, isn't enough. Voters just think Democrats make a lot of empty promises.
Overall, it would be better to have candidates like Mark Pryor, Kay Hagan, John Walsh, and Mary Landrieu pitching populist policies, even if they aren't immediately achievable, than to have them distancing themselves from the party and the president. Also, the Republicans are nuts, and they should be pointing that out.
So what can Democrats do? I think they have to start talking about why popular Democratic policies don't get enacted. The reason is that there are too damn many Republicans in Congress.
I think they have to say, "When you elect Republicans, they block any increase in the minimum wage. When you elect Republicans, they block every bill that would put people to work. When you elect Republicans, they block immigration reform. When you elect Republicans, they insist on trying to get the budget under control by cutting programs that people really need because they refuse to allow the taxes of the wealthiest Americans to go up by even one dime." And so on and so on.
Maybe you even need to explain the filibuster -- yes, on the campaign trail. Don't you think Bill Clinton could pull that off in a speech and still keep an audience's attention? Well, why should that be a unique skill? The president is a pretty good speaker, too, isn't he?
According to a recent New York Times/CBS poll, 59% of voters are at least somewhat "disappointed" in the Obama presidency, including 24% of Democrats. Why is that? Partly it's because people thought he could do more. Well, most voters don't have a clear picture of why he can't do more. They need some Civics 101 so they'll understand. And they need someone to explain what the solution would be, even if it's highly unlikely to be attainable.
Why is it so difficult for Democrats to say that Republicans are the problem? Republicans have no problem blaming Democrats, and they're not punished at the polls for "divisiveness," at least in non-presidential elections.
Assess the blame where it belongs. Otherwise, voters just think that ineffectual Democrats are the real problem.