Left Rallies Enthusiasm On The National Mall
SCOTT SIMON, Host:
Today in Washington, D.C., liberal activists from the NAACP, labor unions, environmental groups and others are all joining forces for a rally on the National Mall. It's all part of an effort to bridge what's called the enthusiasm gap that so far has seemed to favor conservatives this election season. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson joins us. Good morning, Mara.
MARA LIASSON: Good morning, Scott.
SIMON: And help us read the tea leaves on the significance of this rally.
LIASSON: There is a little problem. I've been getting a lot of emails in my inbox for doctors coming today who are going to march against Obama's health care plan. They want single payer. There are a lot of anti-war groups against the president's policy in Afghanistan. So they're not all singing on the same page as the Democrats, but I do think the net effect of these groups, unions, civil rights groups, et cetera, will be, if they succeed, to energize Democratic voters for November.
SIMON: President Obama held a rally in Madison, Wisconsin this week that reportedly drew 26,000 people. Madison's a pretty - Dane County - pretty heavily Democratic territory. It was the first of four rallies that he's planned, and what's on his political agenda with these events?
LIASSON: On the message front, what he's telling them is you might not be completely happy with all the change we've been able to - or unable to effect in the last two years, but the other side is worse. So he's trying to rekindle that hope with a healthy dose of fear of the Republicans.
SIMON: It seems like for months now we've been hearing that the prospects for the Democrats in this upcoming election look to be just dreadful. But, you know, conventional wisdom in a campaign season can have a short shelf life. Any signs that the president's campaigning now is helping raise his prospects?
LIASSON: On the other hand, there are other races where the polls show that it's getting worse for Democrats, including in Wisconsin - that's one of the reasons why the president was there - Russ Feingold is really in the fight of his life. So it's not clear yet.
SIMON: Anything you're going to watch for in particular these next few weeks, Mara?
LIASSON: Yes. I want to see what likely voters do. I'm going to start ignoring all the polls that poll registered voters. I'm only interested in likely voters - the voters who are the most enthusiastic and will turn out to vote. That's what I'll be watching.
SIMON: Well, clue us in on it, OK, when you find out.
LIASSON: I will.
SIMON: All right. NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson. Thanks so much.
LIASSON: Thank you, Scott.
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