You And Me, Together In My District, No Thanks!
Granted it’s early in Congressional races for reelection, and fund-raising not actual campaigning is the order of the day, but yesterday may be a harbinger of things to come, or not to come more succinctly.
President Obama spoke yesterday in Scranton, PA to promote the extension of Federal Payroll Tax Cuts and, not willing lately to miss an opportunity, do a little campaigning while there. The interesting part of this is not what was said but who was not there. Sen. Robert Casey, the first-term Senator from Pennsylvania declined an invitation to appear with the President. Sen. Casey issued the following statement when asked why the he chose to skip the event.
“I am not able to be there today because of votes on legislation to support our troops and our national defense, but I am gratified that President Obama is highlighting legislation I have introduced in the Senate to prevent this tax increase and expand the tax cut to provide an average of $1,500 for working families,” Casey said. “This legislation will also provide tax relief for businesses so they can hire workers and grow.”
The problem is there was only vote yesterday in the Senate. It was on the Motion To Invoke Cloture on S 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, and it was agreed to, barely squeaking by 88 to 12. It’s a good thing the Senator stayed in DC to put the vote over the top or who knows what may have happened.
So what’s the real deal? In a state he won by 10 points in 2008, based on latest polling, the President has a 54% disapproval to 43% approval rating, and it’s worse among Independents. On the other hand Sen. Casey has a 46% approval to 30% disapproval rating, and against an unnamed challenger scores even higher. Clearly the Senator doesn’t need the President right now as much as the President may need the Senator, and that’s where things may get interesting in the 2012 Congressional races.
The Democrats are not alone in this circumstance either as a reasonable number of Congress members have endorsed a GOP candidate in the primary but have not gone out of their way for a joint appearance or photo op. With the uncertainty of the Republican primary race, polling numbers that are all over the place and the perception, or at least question, of how would Mitt or Newt play in my district, many GOP incumbents are taking a laid back approach to both candidates right now.
Of course all things can change quickly in politics, and if the President’s numbers bump up overall, or in a particular state or district, look for more classic “down ticket” campaigning with the requisite joint appearances and photo ops. On the GOP side, once the nominee is known, look for Congress incumbents to leverage the party ticket to the fullest, as long as the circus-like air passes and the nominee rallies overall party support behind them.
In the meantime, we may well continue to hear more “You and Me, Together In My District, No Thanks!”