By Peter Foster, Washington
Six years after Barack Obama helped Democrats to a slew of surprising electoral victories in Republican states, pollsters and pundits alike agree that the once-charismatic US president has become an electoral liability in November’s mid-term elections.
It has been a stunning reversal of fortunes for Mr Obama, whose celebrity status helped get Democrats elected in several Republican states in 2008 – states which the party is now desperately struggling to defend.
Republicans need to take back six Democrat Senate seats in order to regain control of the 100-member upper chamber, a result that would give them control of both houses of Congress and leave Mr Obama, who is already verging on lame duck status, even further isolated.
With less than two weeks to go until the November 4 polling day, we track the travails of the man who once walked on political water.
Mr Obama belatedly hit the campaign trail this week, but the depths of his unpopularity soon became clear as supporters walked out early in one rally in the state of Maryland.
As Mr Obama urged a mostly African-American audience to get out and vote, the Reuters news agency reported that “a steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium” as the president was speaking. He was then heckled over the lack of progress on immigration reform.
“You've got to vote,” Mr Obama repeatedly beseeched the crowd at the rally outside Washington, “There are no excuses. The future is up to us.”And even your own candidates won’t admit to knowing you…
Out in middle America, where wages are still flat and Mr Obama is accused of failing to deliver as much ‘hope and change’ as he famously promised, Democrat candidates have been actively disassociating themselves from their party’s leader.
“I’m not Barack Obama,” said Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat candidate in Kentucky in a recent television advert which went on to spell out her disagreements with Mr Obama on guns, coal and environmental regulations.
Indeed, so toxic has Mr Obama’s name apparently become that when Ms Lundergan Grimes was asked if she had ever actually voted for Mr Obama, the 35-year-old lawyer declined to answer.Unfortunately Democrats need Mr Obama at the top of his game…
Even if Mr Obama was riding high in the polls, this would be a tough year for Democrats according to Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
Only one-third of the Senate's 100 members are up for election this year, and the key races just happen to fall in states like Alaska, Kentucky, North Carolina and Louisiana that tend to favour Republicans.
“It’s both the ‘map and the math’ of the president’s low approval that is hurting Democrats,” says Prof Sabato, before adding that an in-form Obama could still have made the difference.
“Republicans are winning at the moment, but if Obama’s numbers were sky-high – which they are not - then I think Democrats would hold the Senate.”But events, dear boy, events…
If it’s not one thing, then it’s the other. Not so long ago, the pundits predicted that the backlash from Obama’s healthcare reforms would be enough to sink Democrats in November, but then the embattled Obamacare websites finally ran smoothly and the threat started to recede.
But just as things were looking up, along came the Islamic State militants to throw Mr Obama’s foreign policy into reverse-gear, dragging a president who had prided himself on disengaging from Middle Eastern wars back into war in the Middle East.
Mr Obama took serious incoming fire for those wobbly days with “no strategy”, but then looked to have fought off that criticism by pulling together an international coalition and ordering some decisive-looking air-strikes on Syria……Only to be struck down by Ebola.
It’s not Mr Obama’s fault necessarily, but the bungled handling of the Ebola crisis by the US government agency, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has been the last straw.
How did two US nurses get Ebola after all the reassurances that the disease – properly handled – wasn’t that contagious? And how were infected nurses and hospital technicians allowed to board flights and take holiday cruises?
Mr Obama was forced to cancel a campaign trip to New Jersey to summon an emergency cabinet meeting, but the damage was already done, and the Obama administration’s unfortunate reputation for administrative incompetence was further assured.
Democrats may run a mile from Mr Obama in the heartlands, but on the liberal coasts his residual celebrity still brings in the fundraising dollars.
By one estimate the president has conducted 45 fundraisers this year – that’s about one a week – visiting hotels, country clubs and the mansions of celebrities and the super-rich to relieve them of their cash.
The president’s sheen may have faded for the ordinary Joe, but in Hollywood he still sets some hearts a-fluttering. “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly,” gushed Gwyneth Paltrow as she introduced Mr Obama to guests at her home in Los Angeles.
Cue sounds of retching on the Conservative right.
Read more here: www.telegraph.co.uk/news/world…