(by Jonathan Martin, The New York Times) — When he soared to victory by almost 10 million votes in 2008, President Obama won in states like Virginia that Democratic candidates had not captured since 1964. He was trumpeted as a transformational leader who remade American politics by creating a new electoral map and a diverse voter coalition to shape the Democratic Party for the 21st century.
But for now he has been reduced to something else: an isolated political figure who is viewed as a liability to Democrats in the very states where voters by the thousands had once stood to cheer him.
When Mr. Obama entered the campaign fray last week, he did so by returning to the unconditional embrace of his own hometown, in a blue state where the incumbent Democratic senator faces scant opposition and the Democratic governor is running in part on his support for the Affordable Care Act. On Tuesday, the president attended private fund-raisers in Manhattan, to be followed by similar events in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Arkansas it is not.
As November nears, Mr. Obama and his loyalists are being forced to reconcile that it is not only Democrats in conservative-leaning states, like Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who are avoiding him. The president who became the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to twice win a majority of the vote is flying in politically restricted airspace.
Democratic senators in Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia — states that were pivotal to his success and whose demographics reflect his winning coalition of young, minority and female voters — do not want him. Nor does his party’s Senate nominee in Iowa, where Mr. Obama won twice and whose youth-filled 2008 Democratic caucuses vaulted him toward the nomination.
Some leading Democrats say it would be better for him to make the case for the party’s economic policies safely away from the most crucial races — as he did last week in Illinois.
“It’s not so important where he says it — it’s what he says,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.
Yet even the slightest injection of the Obama brand into this election seems perilous for Democrats.