Despite his fundraising lead, Mark Warner knows he’s in trouble. This is not a good year to be a Democrat incumbent being challenged by a credible Republican candidate, particularly when you’re a candidate who has marched in virtual lockstep with the President.
The President’s popularity and approval ratings are at an all-time low owing to a number of factors, chiefly things with Mark Warner’s fingerprints all over them: Obamacare and the immigration crisis rapidly coming to a boiling point.
You don’t have to believe me; I’m clearly a Gillespie partisan. Instead, you can believe the Democrat Super PAC organized to help Mark Warner get re-elected. As Politico reported yesterday, that Super PAC acknowledged the troubles Warner faces, and they squarely blame the President:
Talking points provided to a potential donor, obtained by POLITICO, are eerily similar to the pitch that Republican candidate Ed Gillespie is making to his own donors.
The gist of the talking points is that the political climate is bad for any Democrat, the health care law is polling poorly and Gillespie is a potentially formidable contender:
• “Republicans will try to tie President Obama and Obamacare to Senator Warner. The Senator has voted with President Obama over 97% of the time.”
• “The 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be similar to the wave elections of 1994 and 2010; particularly with an unpopular President and an unpopular piece of major legislation that will serve as a referendum on the sitting President. … These wave elections are always bad for incumbents, especially ones that have voted for the unpopular piece of legislation.”
• “A difficult political climate coupled with the rising unpopularity of President Obama could affect the Democratic brand as a whole and hurt Senator Warner. … The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the Democratic brand is polling worse than 2010 in many states including Virginia.”
Clearly campaigns sometimes are alarmist about their candidate’s situation to try to motivate donors. But this desperation reeks of the same fear D.J. McGuire noted here last week. Mark Warner and his folks know he’s not in a good spot to win in November, regardless of how much money he can throw at the race.
The desperation continues today. In an article about Ed Gillespie’s tour of Southwest Virginia to talk to voters about his economic development and energy policies, the Bristol Herald Courier reports that Mark Warner’s response to Gillespie’s positive message was to actually blame Gillespie for the problems in Washington. That’s right…set aside the fact that Warner has actually been an elected leader in Washington for the last six years, and set aside the fact that he’s among Barack Obama’s favorite water carriers in the Senate…this is supposedly all Ed Gillespie’s fault. In Warner’s own words, “Ed Gillespie is a self-declared partisan warrior and million-dollar lobbyist who helped create the gridlock in Washington and would only make things worse. Virginians want a problem-solver, not a partisan warrior.” (Emphasis added).
Well, the Warner campaign certainly has a lot of blame to spread around, don’t they? In one sense that’s a good thing: at least they recognize there is a problem. Their trouble is that Warner, far from being the self-described “problem solver” of his campaign pitches is quite directly part of the problem itself, and the voters—and Warner’s own Super PAC—know it.