Democrats Take Back Red State Territory by Not Appearing with President Obama


During a 20 minute session with reporters today in Wisconsin, Jay Carney was asked if President Obama was concerned that some Democratic candidates don’t want to appear with him at public events. This question was pertinent as the President has been making trips including red states in order to talk directly to the people about his economic proposals, focusing on jobs and extending long term unemployment benefits.

Carney responded per the pool, “The president is out there advancing an agenda designed to expand opportunity for the American people. That’s an agenda that should be welcomed by Americans across the country regardless of how they vote, their political affiliation. That’s what the president is focused on. He obviously supports Democratic candidates, both incumbents and challengers across the country, and I think we’ve amply demonstrated that support already and he will continue to do so.”

The notion that some Democratic candidates don’t want to appear with Obama has been used to sell a narrative that the party is fractured. However, upon closer inspection, what’s really happening is the party is stealthily encroaching upon red territory.

Democrats just won Virginia. They now hold the top three state offices in a state Republicans thought was theirs. Democrats are threatening Republicans in red states for the 2014 race. A great example of this is the Alison Grimes race against Mitch McConnell- a race that a new poll shows is a statistical dead heat. As the Grimes campaign pointed out in a statement today, “This marks the ninth recent poll showing Alison Lundergan Grimes tied or ahead of Mitch McConnell.”

Do red state Democrats want to be seen with President Obama? Many do not. They are running in places where Obama has been demonized and fear-mongered about so relentlessly that they need to distance themselves from him publicly.

The President is not a fool, and I’m sure he understands exactly what’s going on. All he cares about is that these Democrats win, so he can finally get something done for the people. They don’t need to walk in lock step with President Obama in order to be valuable as elected representatives. What they need to do is want to do their actual jobs, and put people over corporations. That is why Carney focused on how the policy Democrats are promoting is for all people, not just Democrats. Everyone wants the chance at a decent job if they work hard.

Take Kentucky as an example. The new PPP poll shows that proposals to raise the federal minimum wage may be a key issue in Kentucky, with 57 percent supporting it. Forty-two percent of voters don’t want to vote for Mitch McConnell if he voted against raising the minimum wage. He did. He also voted against pay equity for women.

Not appearing with Obama is not personal; it’s pure strategy and it’s brilliant. Democrats are sneaking up on Republicans in red states, and they are mainstreaming Democratic candidates by picking people who appeal to the average voter. (It seems to be the year of Democratic Woman Rising, which could be a long term trend if Hillary… ) While conventional wisdom says this will be a huge losing year for Democrats, conventional wisdom never met the Tea Party. Conventional wisdom also never met this Democratic party.

While there are vast differences within the Democratic Party and strong debate and disagreement over certain issues, the party is unified over the central tenet of their platform, which is to do something for the people. I don’t see a fractured party at all. I see a party advancing on their opponent, encroaching into enemy territory at night under the cloak of other people’s expectations.

Is it sad and pathetic that this president has been so demonized that some of his own party members – particularly in red states – have to distance themselves from him? Absolutely. But if you’ve ever lived in a red state, you know how entrenched these beliefs are. A year isn’t enough time to fight those beliefs, and there are things to do in the meantime — a country to be saved.

Sarah Jones

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