Nearly two years ago, the political world could only marvel at the breadth of voter support for Barack Obama.
The new president had won over voters once thought to have abandoned his party for good. He’d found new reservoirs of support among groups many thought were tapped out.
He energized a coalition — made up of blacks, women, Latinos, young voters and large numbers of suburbanites — that some believed would keep Democrats in power for years to come.
A scant 20 months later, the Obama coalition is frayed and frazzled.
Surprisingly, support for the president among Latinos, young people and women has dropped as much as it has among groups that were considered less likely to stick with the president, such as white males, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Support among suburbanites has dropped dramatically too, surveys show, while African American voters remain Obama’s most loyal constituency and his fiercest defenders.
…Pew’s survey experts routinely ask respondents to characterize the president in a single word. In their most recent poll, conducted this summer, more respondents than ever answered with the word “disappointing.”
Some who threw their lot in with Obama expressed a sense of being let down by the man who promised change and pledged to transform the country. Some attributed that to their own lofty expectations and, perhaps, their naivete. Others pointed to what they saw as his lack of focus on the still-faltering economy.
And some suggested they were simply hoodwinked by a smooth-talking politician.
“What I’ve come to the realization is that the president was an absolutely fantastic campaigner. He was a perfect preacher-slash-minister-slash-professor,” said Peter Gallo, a concert promoter in Raleigh, N.C. “He doesn’t have the skill to legislate, to build coalitions. He does not have the skill to bring people in and say, ‘Come on and let’s get this done.’”
Gallo’s words — in various ways — were echoed in Fairfax County, Va., outside Washington; in northern Nevada; in greater Philadelphia; in the suburbs of Ohio; and in a college town in southern Virginia.
All are regions crucial to Democrats. The president will need these voters in two years. His party needs them now.
The fast-growing Raleigh-Durham area was dominated by Obama in 2008. He took up to 70% of the vote in some counties — and helped turn North Carolina blue for the first time since 1976. Now, polls show that Obama’s healthcare plan is unpopular and that North Carolina voters are favoring Republicans in state legislative races.