Obama goes hard left

WASHINGTON - NOVEMBER 03:  U.S. President Bara...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Dick Morris:

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Very possibly the decision to tack to the left was not entirely voluntary. With the Republicans constantly confronting him with budget cuts and spending reductions, Obama cannot portray himself as a centrist. Every day, he is on the defensive against proposals for Republican attempts to rein in federal outlays. Against a backdrop of repeated confrontation, he cannot move to the middle. Indeed, there is no middle. His budget compromises with Boehner are not middle ground, they are partial surrenders, grudging acceptances of budget cuts he would never otherwise allow.

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The problem with a leftist strategy is that the vote share a Democrat can attract with it has a very low ceiling - in the low 40s. Economic populism just doesn't play that well outside of the Democratic left.

The key to this electoral model is, of course, turnout. Obama made it work in 2008 by adding the votes of new, younger voters, increasing the African-American and Latino turnout and playing on the unique economic panic of the times. But, absent a big increase in liberal turnout, the appeal of class warfare and populist rhetoric is sharply limited.

Will Obama be able to replicate his turnout model of 2008 in 2012? With high unemployment, inflation and gas prices, it's very unlikely. His problem, more probably, will be to animate his base and breathe it back to sufficient life to give him any chance at all. Most polls show growing liberal disaffection with Obama, as Libya, Afghanistan and his failure to close Guantánamo sap the enthusiasm he needs on the left.

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The left has two choices. They can stay home or they can vote for Obama in 2012. He maybe able to peel off some independents by demagoguery of the Medicare issue although recent NY Times polling shows a plurality supporting the Ryan plan.

When the Republican candidates start focusing on the real issues, Obama's tack to the left will look like a huge mistake.
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