Network panels note that Obama’s working to move the needle for Dems in midterm because Biden can’t

Everyone on both sides of the aisle must be wondering whether former President Barack Obama has the magic sauce to help Democrats avoid the indignity of minority status in Congress. While he could probably win again as a presidential candidate, he has never really been successful at convincing voters to elect Democrats in state and local elections.

The networks were talking about it all weekend. Panels popped up on CNN, NBC and MSNBC to dissect Obama’s activity. They tried to outdo each other as they pondered and predicted whether his efforts would move the needle.

Scott Jennings trolled a CNN panel on “State of the Union,” saying that they got “amazing results” when Obama was involved in the 2010 and 2014 midterms.

“I think the fact he’s out there also tells you what we know about the election,” said Jennings. “Joe Biden can’t be out there. So this is the only person they can put out. Democrats have bet everything on abortion, everything. And with nine days to go, it’s Social Security, it’s Medicare, it’s fear, it’s — and finally it’s we made a huge mess, and what are you going to do to clean it up? It’s too late. It’s not going to work.”

Another CNN panel was featured on “Inside Politics.” National political correspondent for the New York Times, Jonathan Martin, seemed to admit that Democrats are walking a thin line.

“I think Obama being out there in places that Biden cannot go, Georgia, Nevada, the two most obvious examples, it does say a lot about Democrats, sort of where the party is today, right? But Biden was essentially an emergency nominee in 2020, because the entire criteria of the party, who can beat Trump, and he was obviously the answer,” said Martin.

“But there was not a lot of thought given to longer-term planning,” he continued, “so they now have a near 80-year-old incumbent president, and they’re relying on somebody who was last on the ballot a decade ago to come in as their closer in the midterms. It tells you a lot about where things are.”

NBC News contributor Kimberly Atkins Stohr was asked for her opinion on “Meet the Press.” She seemed to think that the former president might be the one Democrat who could energize the base.

“The Democrats hope that he’s the closer. I mean I talked to two people yesterday just in regular conversations, like, you know. Barack Obama is so good at this. I think that’s what they’re counting on, especially for that youth vote,” she said.

It seems like a major long shot to think that Obama, who now represents nostalgia for Democrats, might inspire a better turnout of young voters.

Whatever happens, though, you know Obama is eating this up. He must love the adulation and the knowledge that everyone wishes he was on the ballot.

But will his campaign appearances serve as a reminder to Democrats that their candidates are truly awful?

During MSNBC’s “The Sunday Show” with host Jonathan Capehart, Democratic pollster and strategist Cornel Belcher broke out the superlatives.

“He is a unique political figure,” said Belcher. “He is a once-in-a-lifetime sort of political figure and a movement. When you think about some of those young people, look Obama doesn’t become president if 11% of the electorate in the 2008 are new to the process, right? We built that. They were disproportionately young people, and what are disproportionately young people? They’re diverse. He energizes young voters.”

Similarly, PBS host Yamiche Alcindor appeared on MSNBC to worship the idol of Obama’s presidency and to remind the 600 MSNBC viewers that Biden is not as popular. Listing the reasons Democrats want Obama on the campaign trail, she fan-girled but managed to stop short of saying, OMG, I can’t even, he’s so totally hot I love him so much. 

Here’s what she did say:

“So I think you also have both the fact that he’s popular and the fact that he has some experience, he knows what is to be a president, when you cannot pass legislation only by executive order. So in some ways it tells you that Democrats understand the issues at hand,” she said. “I think it just tells you that Obama has a little bit of swagger, and that is what they want to see Democrats out there to motivate people.”

Former Rep Donna Edwards (D-Md.), who flamed out in her bid this year to re-take her old 4th district seat in Congress, told Capehart that Obama is the best person to put out on the trail.

“The former president was in his element. He has the ability, both to communicate a message, to talk to people in a language that they understand, to make them laugh. And then to excite them. Those are all the things that Democrats need to make sure the Democratic voters show up in the polls, and that they vote,” she said. “I think Democrats are right, you put your best team on the field, and President Obama is the best team.”

It will be fascinating to see what, if anything, changes in the polls this week, in places where Obama campaigned. But not all black people are happy to see him back out there.

He has even been subjected to some heckling.

Capehart asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre why Obama was campaigning for Senate candidate Mandela Barnes and Gov. Tony Evers in Wisconsin and Biden wasn’t.

In a typical, hapless KJP retort that doesn’t answer the question, she said, “The president has been talking about this almost every day for months now. He’s been talking about the choices that are at stake here.”


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