Thousands of empty seats at Barack Obama's last campaign rally of the midterm elections on Sunday highlighted the decline in his popularity and the potential meltdown facing the Democrats at the polls on Tuesday.
In Cleveland about 8,000 people turned out to see Obama in the 13,000-capacity stadium, compared with the 80,000 at a rally in the city two days before the 2008 election.
Speaking in Cleveland at the end of a whirlwind four-state tour, Obama said it was an important election. “We have the chance to set the direction of this country for many years to come,” he said. He warned that the Republicans could roll back all the progress of the last two years if they won big.
He admitted it was “a difficult election” because of the state of the economy, and blamed the Republicans for creating the federal deficit — a theme he has repeated throughout the campaign but one that has failed to resonate with the electorate.
The Democrats face defeat on a scale that political analysts say has not been seen in more than 60 years. A CNN poll yesterday put support for the Republicans at 52% and 42% for the Democrats.
Earlier in Chicago, Obama said: “I feel great. So we've seen a lot of enthusiasm. But it's going to be tight.”
Much of the disenchantment, according to polls, is down to the economy and a sense that Obama is too cerebral, unable any more to connect with voters.
Such is the level of disenchantment, even among Democrats, that about half say he should not automatically receive the party nomination for a second term in the White House and that he should be challenged, according to an AP-Knowledge Network Poll at the weekend. gns