Jun 05, 2012 6:21 AM GMT
Interviews with dozens of those drop-off donors reveal the stories of Democrats who still plan to pull the lever for the president, but whose support has gone from fervent to lukewarm, or whose economic circumstances have left them without money to spare. The interviews and the data are the substance of an “enthusiasm gap” spurred by the distance between the promise of the campaign and the reality of governing, one that has begun to deepen Democratic gloom about this November’s election.
“Where’s the change I can believe in?” asked Lisa Pike, a 55-year-old from Williamsburg, Va. with a small medical transcription business who gave $658 in 2008. She said she is not planning on contributing this time around. “I wish he was the socialist they accused him of being. I wish we had the tons of change that would justify the right freaking out. I wish him well — I don’t dislike him personally — but I’m disappointed that he’s not the change-agent I had hoped for.”
An Obama campaign spokeswoman, Katie Hogan, disputed BuzzFeed’s analysis with the statistics, noting that 98% of its donors have given less than the $200 threshold this year and that the campaign is ahead of its 2008 pace. But Obama is now operating with the technical advantages of a permanent campaign, including history’s largest email list, and the political advantages of incumbency, which traditionally draws business interests and favor-seekers to the candidate. Aides have long anticipated that muscle and technical prowess, combined with fear of a Republican takeover, will replace inspiration in keeping the campaign fundraising on track.
Former donors’ complaints vary — healthcare, the economy, and Congressional deadlock rank high — but many of Obama’s once die-hard supporters share a disappointment born of high expectations. Indeed, Obama’s core supporters in the 2008 Democratic primary were liberals suspicious of Hillary Clinton’s association with a moderate “New Democrat” past and her support for the Iraq war. They backed the Illinois Democrat despite his own relatively centrist platform, but were disappointed when he stuck to it. Several cited Obama’s failure to include a single payer option in his health care bill, as well as general willingness to bend to Republican wishes as being central to their disappointment with the President.