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Carville: Wake up Democrats; you could lose

By James Carville, CNN Contributor
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Wed May 9, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Carville: Democrats are expressing confidence they will beat Romney easily
  • He says the polls show the race is extremely close; incumbents losing around world
  • Touting accomplishments such as killing bin Laden, saving GM won't do the trick, he says
  • Carville: Democrats must connect with voters' worries about the economy

Editor's note: James Carville is a Democratic strategist who serves as a political contributor for CNN, appearing frequently on "The Situation Room" as well as other programs on all CNN networks.

(CNN) -- A long time ago a great three-time governor of Louisiana, Earl Long, said about Jimmie Davis, the two-time not very good governor of Louisiana, "You couldn't wake up Jimmie Davis with an earthquake."

As I go around the country and see various Democrats and talk to them on the phone, honestly I'm beginning to think that we have become the party of Jimmie Davis.

My message is simple: WTFU. Translated -- wake the you-know-what up, there is an earthquake.

James Carville
James Carville

You think that Democrats around the country are going to win -- as I hear time and time again from people on the street.

Democratic fundraisers, activists, supporters, and even politicians alike have somehow collectively lapsed into the sentiment that the president is going to be reelected and that we have a good shot to take the House back while holding the Senate.

I ask: What are you smoking? What are you drinking? What are you snorting or just what in the hell are you thinking?

Look around the world -- do you see any governments or incumbents winning any elections out there? Did it happen in small elections in Germany or Britain, big elections in France and Greece or how about huge elections in the United States in 2008 and 2010? Please folks -- wake up!

The polling? Not that encouraging. The latest Democracy Corps poll was 47-47. The Real Clear Politics average of polls has the president up a whopping three-tenths of a percentage point. And I am hearing the garbage that Democratic donors are telling Democratic fundraisers ..."Obama has it in the bag."

Newsflash: Nothing is in the bag. Nothing can be taken for granted. Everybody from the precinct door-knocker, to the Chicago high command, to the White House, to the halls of Congress, to the Senate and House committees, to congressional leadership, here is a simple message: If we don't get on the offense, reconnect with the American people, talk about how the middle class is in a struggle for its very existence, hold the Republicans accountable and fight like the dickens, we are going to lose.

You can shoot five Bin Ladens, you can save 10,000 banks and 20 car companies, even pass the most sweeping legislation in modern American history; if people don't think that you are connected to their lives and are fighting for their interests they will vote your tush out of office in a nano-second. For historical reference see Winston Churchill election of 1945 and President George H.W. Bush in 1992.

So, fellow Democrats -- we've got a fight on our hands. We've got to fight in the same way that the people we care most about have fought for quite some time. They have been crushed by high health care costs, soaring education costs, stagnant wages and financial bailouts for irresponsible firms.

Combine all of this with the fact that the Republicans are raising not millions, not tens of millions, but potentially hundreds of millions of dollars from the pollution industry as result of Citizens United v. FEC.

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There is a full-fledged legislative agenda in many states to keep Democrats from even voting. We are literally being attacked from every side while simultaneously being lulled into some self-induced stupor thinking that this thing is somehow in the bag. It is not.

Oh I know what you are going to say, "Look at Mitt Romney, look how pathetic he is..." Actually pathetic is a kind word for Romney and this campaign. Mitt Romney is to presidential campaigns as the Delta House grade point average was to Faber College -- the worst in history. I mean, my God, when you hold a press conference to rebut charges that you have a Cold War mentality and then you have foreign policy "experts" talk about Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union in "contemporary" terms -- really?

I know that the Swiss and Cayman Island bank accounts drive swing voters and independents over the edge. I've gotten all of the reports from focus group moderators as to how devastating this is to Romney.

Why a man who knows he is running for president (who claims to know something about the American economy) would for any reason keep money in offshore accounts, I have no idea. And I know that we are going to take him out to the cornfield (like at the end of the movie "Casino") on the Ryan budget.

However, I fear that all of this will not be enough unless we have a real change of attitude about the difficult campaign ahead of us. It has been said that, "Nothing so focuses a man's attention as the prospect of being hanged." Look around Democrats -- Come November let's make sure that it's Mitt and his bunch at the end of that figurative rope and not us.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James Carville.

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