Democrats are counting on their base to save them on Nov. 2. But what if a significant slice of that base decides that President Obama's future would be better served by a Congress led by Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell?
What if the president's base is different from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's, and what if that base concludes that the American Left would be much, much better off with a president free of the compromisers and trimmers on the Hill, free to confront the entrenched interests that have made him dilute health care reform and which blocked cap-and-tax?
What if even some of the base secretly or not-so-secretly thinks Obama's got a knock-down coming that will knock some community organizer back into him?
Democratic "strategists" -- no word if this is the same gang that urged the president to jam Obamacare down the throats of an unwilling country that had, after all, sent a message of opposition to D.C. in the form of Sen. Scott Brown -- are gamely predicting that the president needs to rev up his base between now and November.
The Republicans are marching and there's nothing to be done about that. And the independents are lost and, again, there's not much use in bemoaning the forfeiture of the center.
But, if "the base" can be sparked into action, the tide might be stopped before it washes over the House majority and even higher up the Hill, over Reid's office and that majority too.
"[A] landslide is hardly certain," New York Times columnist Charles Blow argued on Friday, "if Democrats can change their tune and energize their base."
"These voters came to the polls in 2008 because they were inspired and hopeful, not angry and scared," Blow continued. "They need to be inspired anew. Democrats must ignite their fealty, and they must do so with a positive, idea-based message."
No big ideas to date out of a White House that spent the end of the week rebranding "global warming" as "global climate disruption", thus reminding every voter in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio that a vote for a Democrat is a vote for even higher unemployment in states with steady, if not strong, employment from coal-related businesses.
The president is drifting, Vice President Biden is in hiding, and Pelosi is busy enjoying the perks of an office that may soon slip from her hands. Reid is embracing the Dream Act as a shameless get-out-the-vote operation, and the lefty town criers at MSNBC are all but shouting -- well, they are shouting -- at the "base" to wake up and smell the tea.
But again, what if the base knows the score and has tallied it more than a couple of times? Many of them remember 1995 and 1996 and Bill Clinton's re-election that year. It hurts on election night, of course, but short-term pain for a second-term gain?
What do you think the Hyde Park armchair revos think? Or the Manhattan anarcho-syndicalists?
That their guy needs to shake off the lobbyists and the dead weight of the various committee chairs?
The base may not stay home. They may be taking up their Tea Party signs and proclaiming "Let Barack Be Barack!" and if not voting for, then hoping for, the GOP.
Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at HughHewitt.com.