President Obama's re-election strategy is increasingly clear. He is moving to consolidate support from the core constituencies of his successful 2008 campaign, and then is expected to focus on swing voters and independents.
Republican strategists say they recognize this plan because it's similar to the one that GOP President George W. Bush used in 2004, when he above all emphasized his own core constituencies and his base on the right in successfully seeking a second term.
Obama's strategy is risky because he might appear to be playing special-interest politics at a time when most Americans want him to focus on the troubled economy.
But Obama has been moving to curry favor with key elements of his original coalition almost as if he were checking off boxes on a "to do" list, strategists in both major parties say. Some examples:
- He is attacking Republican candidate Mitt Romney's ties to the private-equity firm of Bain Capital, hoping to energize activists on the left who see Bain as an example of predatory capitalism.
- He is withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which delights his party's anti-war movement.
- He has endorsed same-sex marriage, which appeals to the gay and lesbian community, a potential source of big financial contributions and campaign volunteers.
- He is announcing initiatives to help young people, a key part of his 2008 coalition. For example, he is calling for programs to limit their debt from college loans and is underscoring how his healthcare law will extend or maintain coverage for young people.
- He is calling for "comprehensive immigration reform" and a path to citizenship for some undocumented workers, in an appeal to Latinos.
- He is making a variety of appeals to women voters over issues such as the availability of healthcare and contraception, hoping in particular to solidify his lead among single women and white women who are college graduates.
- He is wooing the entertainment industry, recently attending a California fund-raiser hosted by actor George Clooney and planning another event early next month at the Beverly Hills home of Ryan Murphy, creator of the TV series Glee.
When the political calculation includes African-Americans--who have given overwhelming support to the first African-American president--such an Obama coalition could amount to about 48 or 49 percent of the electorate, pollsters say. This is, of course, just short of a majority, but Democrats argue that it's a solid base to build on.
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Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" and is the author of "The Presidency" column in the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or Twitter.