About those disaffected Democratic factions

ABOUT THOSE DISAFFECTED DEMOCRATIC FACTIONS…. In his column today, the NYT‘s Ross Douthat identifies the two largest Democratic Party factions, and sees them both turning on President Obama at the same time.

The left looked at him [in the 2008 presidential election] and saw a community organizer and Hyde Park intellectual who had been against the Iraq war before being antiwar was fashionable. Of course he was one of them!

The moderates listened to him and heard a postpartisan healer who promised to work with Republicans, cut middle-class taxes and send more troops to Afghanistan. Obviously he was a centrist at heart!

Once campaigning gave way to governing, it was inevitable that one faction or the other would be disappointed. But lately, Obama has managed the more difficult feat of alienating both of them at once…. So the president finds himself alone.

Alone, that is, except for all the Democrats who continue to support the president.

The unfortunate thing about the Douthat piece is that it was published the same day as polling data that seems to disprove the column’s thesis. Around the same time as the NYT column was published on Dems feeling alienated from Obama, Gallup published results showing that “key groups that tend to lean Democratic remain solidly behind the president, and Obama’s staunchest supporters from 2008 remain in his camp.” In all, 79% of self-identified Democrats approve of the president, as do 75% of self-identified liberals. Obama also continues to do well with African Americans, young voters, and Hispanics.

What’s more, it’s not just Gallup. Other recent polls show the president with Democratic support that’s just as strong, if not stronger.

Douthat’s column notwithstanding, this isn’t even especially new. While Obama’s liberal and Democratic backing isn’t as high as it was early last year, it hasn’t changed much at all over the last six months.

To be sure, it’d be foolish to pretend there aren’t some frustrated progressive voters out there. They’re there, they’re unhappy, and the enthusiasm gap between the parties may lead to a Republican congressional majority. I don’t want to be dismissive of Dems who have meaningul concerns about the White House.

But I still think Douthat’s case is overstated. He didn’t point to any specific evidence of the president “alienating both” of the key Democratic factions “at once,” and at this point, I’m finding the notion that the president is “standing alone” without the bulk of his ’08 backers rather hard to believe.