Salena Zito

Which is why so many congressional Democrats are running away from their own president.

Just last week, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, aired an ad showing him locked-and-loaded, firing a rifle at a copy of the Democrats’ cap-and-trade legislation and promising to do the same to “Obamacare.”

“The party candidates have to fashion a different image for themselves than that of the president,” Rozell explains. “They have to showcase how independent they are from this White House, or be ready to be swept away by the Republican tide in November.”

The Obama administration has displayed an alarming lack of understanding of how America works beyond Harvard’s halls or Washington’s trendy neighborhoods.

Brownsville’s Mayor Ward is a retired federal employee who identifies with Democrats yet is dissatisfied with the party’s disconnect: “There are good things and there are bad things about Republicans but the same can be said about Democrats.”

He says, wistfully, that he’d like to believe Democrats are just a little less bad, “But I always vote the person and the issues, never the party.”

In the final weeks of the midterm campaign, the president has launched a narrative that bears no resemblance whatsoever to his 2004 speech promising an end to the ugliness of Washington’s political division.

George Mason’s Rozell agrees that elections are won mostly in the middle, “which is why the Democrats are in such trouble this year, as the image of the president and the Democrats has moved left.”

If, as widely predicted, Republicans prevail in the midterms and take control of the U.S. House, their victory will be due not only to Democrats losing the middle ground but also to the conservative movement gaining in intensity just as the left turned passive and discontented.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.