I can tell you without fear of contradiction that in the last days of a tight race, or even a not-tight race, short of the FBI finding a stash of kiddie porn on your laptop there is nothing worse than the headline-grabbing news that the head of your party, the President of the United States, thinks you are a shitty candidate and his aides are privately saying you are going to lose.
It could easily shave 5 points off your total and mean the margin of defeat. It threatens to instantly suppress all those difficult-to-motivate 2008 “surge” voters the Democrats have been chasing, and which Obama’s support was supposed to deliver.
In the case of Specter and Lincoln, that support was promised in exchange for their votes on measures Obama is now crowing about. He tells Rolling Stone he has achieved “70%” of his campaign promises. That’s a bit far-fetched, but be that as it may, Lincoln’s vote for his health care bill cost her dearly, and without Specter’s vote for the stimulus, it never would have happened.
Now I don’t feel the least bit sorry for either of them, but it doesn’t say anything good about Obama that he would abandon them in the clinch like that either.
But this is a clear pattern with the Obama White House. Insulating the President from blame for electoral losses is paramount, even at the risk of triggering the loss. Setting up the narrative, pre-election, that the campaign was doomed anyway and there was nothing Obama could do to save it was considered more important.
For the record though, lecturing and scaremongering the young is not always an effective strategy for motivation. Don't tell him though. I personally hope Obama spends all his time from now until November attempting to motivate his base. There will be plenty of time for living in a van when they're living in a van.