Obama's team actually believes that in the last six months they have courted independent voters and that didn't work, so now they are turning to activating the base with higher taxes on the wealthy. However, he never made any meaningful appeal to those voters in terms they would understand. He supported extending the Bush tax cuts, temporarily zoomed up in the polls, and then promptly repudiated what he had done, only to then fall back down.You want to know how Obama forged that unique coalition of professionals? White guilt. They bought into the whole rainbows and unicorns things and thought they could heal centuries of racism by voting for Obama.
The 2010 mid-term elections were fought over Obama's healthcare plan and on his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy by ending the Bush tax cuts. The results were, in his own words, a "shellacking." After his most recent speech to Congress, voters in New York City's Ninth Congressional District just elected a Republican for the first time since 1920.
And now, Obama is pressing the case for higher taxes, following in the footsteps of Walter Mondale. Higher taxes always seem to poll well, but in reality the country sees that as a last resort.
In Obama's case, it is particularly damaging to his chances for re-election because of the unique coalition he put together in 2008 to win. The President won the lion's share of everyone making under $35,000. He then did very poorly with middle class voters, but he got a remarkable half of the 26% of the voters whose households make over $100,000. Never before have so many voters fallen into that category and never before had so many of them voted Democratic. Even the so-called top 1% making over $200,000 is actually according to the exit polls 6%, and they mostly (52%) voted for Obama. Without similar support from those upper-income voters, Obama has no way to recreate the numbers that sailed him to victory. And while these voters have become far more socially tolerant, they have also become far more impatient when it comes to economic issues.
What was so brilliant about the Obama 2008 election was that it brought together the upper and lower classes in a common mission of hope and change. Today, he is smashing apart that coalition with policies that seem to be about expanding the scope of government by the trillions of dollars (starting with health care) and raising taxes. Such policies will allow him to hold on to his under $35,000 support, but are anathema to the rest -- and especially the unique coalition of new professionals he forged in 2008.
I don't think Obama has it in him to go to the center because he's been so ideologically programmed to far left liberalism. He'll probably go down kicking, screaming, and calling for higher taxes on millionaires.
David Brooks sums up the whole white guilt crowd:
I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap.
When the president said the unemployed can’t wait 14 more months for help and we had to do something right away, I believed him. When administration officials called around saying that the possibility of a double-dip recession was horrifyingly real and that it would be irresponsible not to come up with a package that could pass right away, I believed them.
I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill.
It recycles ideas that couldn’t get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress.