Obama campaigns for Coakley: Risk vs. Reward 

Hotline's Reid Wilson has a good examination of the risks involved in the President's decision to make a last minute campaign stop for Martha Coakley:

Given how much the costs of an actual loss outweigh the costs of a perceived loss, Dem strategists are confused about why the WH has not set an event, even with VP Biden, in the race's crucial final days.

But, in reality, the situation is a lot worse for Dems than it appears. According to strategists familiar with internal polls conducted for Coakley's campaign, the consequences of Obama's visit could produce a net-negative effect on Coakley's campaign.

Obama has a net favorable rating in MA, according to public and private polls. A Suffolk Univ. poll out today shows 55% of MA voters viewing him favorably, while just 35% see him unfavorably. But the intensity of voters who view him unfavorably, or who disapprove of his job performance, is so high that an appearance with Coakley could bring out more GOPers ready to vote for Brown than it could Dems set on their nominee.

"Obama is radioactive in polls," said one senior Dem operative who has seen the campaign's internal numbers. "Every time they dropped his name in a poll, it was awful. So you just can't take those kinds of chances."

There are other considerations too. Obama has moved quickly to address the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Haiti, and combined with the WH's stated focus on creating jobs to turn around the economy, he risks the appearance of putting politics at the fore at an inopportune time.

Read the whole thing. The president's appearence does have the odor of panic surrounding it, but one wonders how skewed the risk is for the president. Up until his announcement today that he was campaiging for Coakley, it seemed as if the Democratic establishment was already trying to create daylight between Obama and a potential Coakley loss.

Much of his leadership ability rests on his personal appeal. That appeal has come up short in two notable campaigns already. However, it was one thing to campaign on behalf candidates who lost in purple states such as New Jersey and Virgina. But Massachusetts? Even if Coakley wins, it's hard to imagine how much credit the president gets for eeking out a race in a state where Democrats out number Republicans three to one. And it would be quite another if he got his imprimatur all over the race in deep blue Massachusetts and then lost. He'd go from being radioactive to political Chernobyl as far as Democrats are concerned.

It's understandable that health care reform and much of Obama's domestic agenda is on the line and the president would want to fight for that, but it's far from certain he can have a positive outcome of the race (and he may even be a net negative for Coakley). The president might want to consider that it's worth even preserving the illusion he has some political capital rather than risking it all quite publicly and for naught.

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