To win, Dems need to turn to... Reagan?

Democrats may be headed for a repeat of 1994's disastrous midterm elections. But can President Obama save his party by adopting Ronald Reagan's optimism?

If Republicans had their pick for a fifth face on Mt. Rushmore, this would be it.
(Image credit: Corbis)

With unemployment near 10 percent and Republicans taking a record lead in the polls, many Democrats fear they're heading for a repeat of 1994, when the GOP took control of both houses of Congress in the middle of Bill Clinton's first term. But President Obama can steer his party away from disaster if he takes a page from another president who faced long midterm odds, says Jim Kessler in The Washington Post. In 1982, Ronald Reagan and his fellow Republicans faced similarly horrible numbers, but Reagan helped his party hold onto power by assuring voters that his party would restore America's greatness. Can Obama save the Democrats by projecting a "muscular," Reagan-like view of what this country can achieve? (Watch an ABC report about Obama and Reagan)

Obama is no Reagan: Obama can try acting like Reagan, says Paul Mirengoff at Power Line, but it won't work. Voters believed Reagan when he told them that American would bounce back, stronger than ever, because his "belief in that America was not only genuine, but consuming." Obama is "ambivalent about such an America," so he won't fool anybody by trying to sound like Reagan.

"Even the Gipper can't save the Democrats this year"

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Obama just needs to remind voters change takes time: American voters are "spoiled," says Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. They want "quick, painless solutions to long-term, structural problems." Obama just needs to be the grown-up here, and make Americans understand that getting this great "nation back on track is a long-range project." He promised hope and change — he didn't say it would happen overnight.

"The spoiled-brat American electorate"

It might have worked, but it's too late: Reagan didn't spring his optimism on voters two months before the 1982 elections, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. He had been sending the same message since he hit the campaign trail more than two years earlier. "For the Democrats to try talking like Reagan at this late hour would sound strange" — they're better off focusing on races they can win and trying to "prevent a bad year from becoming horrible."

"Democrats preparing to cut losses in vulnerable races"

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