July 3, 2010

CHANGE FROM THE CHANGE:

Rougher Road for Democrats Without Obama Atop Ticket (JEFF ZELENY, 7/03/10, NY Times)

While all candidates ask voters for support, the pitch from Mr. Driehaus is more pointed than most. He is among the class of Democrats who face the challenge of running in difficult districts without the same enthusiasm and expected voter turnout that helped the party expand its Congressional majorities when Barack Obama led the ticket two years ago.

The race highlights a central question of this election cycle: What chance do Democrats have of defending House districts, like the one here in Cincinnati and a dozen more across the country, where, by narrow margins in 2008, they captured seats held by Republicans?

To hold these seats and to protect others that are vulnerable, Democrats are trying to re-create the Obama campaign machinery and expand turnout beyond a typical midterm election to compete with a particularly motivated Republican base.

The prospects for Democrats holding on to the House, and perhaps even the Senate, could rest with whether legions of first-time or occasional voters who supported Mr. Obama, including a high percentage of African-Americans, return to the polls this year.

The contest in Ohio’s First Congressional District offers one of the best case studies in the country. The campaign is among a dozen rematches in this election cycle: Steve Chabot, who was first elected in the 1994 Republican sweep, lost his seat to Mr. Driehaus by four percentage points — 14,772 votes — and is fighting to win it back.

“I think people are ready for a change from the change,” Mr. Chabot said in an interview at his storefront headquarters, decorated with signs and banners from his previous races. “The change that they’ve seen isn’t what a lot of people had in mind.”

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2010 5:42 PM
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