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Vulnerable Democrats Keep Their Distance From Obama On Syria

Democrats with tougher electoral prospects are not interested in signing on to the president's war.

Posted on September 6, 2013, at 2:10 p.m. ET

The Arizona Republic, Rob Schumacher / AP

WASHINGTON — Some of the Democrats least interested in lining up behind the president on Syria are the Democrats most likely to face a tough reelection campaign next year.

President Obama acknowledged Friday that convincing Congress to authorize a military strike on Syria has been "a heavy lift" for the White House so far. The normal anti-war coalition of liberals and libertarians is falling into place, and a more unlikely coalition partner of Republican hawks is joining them. For now, though, most members are on the fence. None more so than vulnerable Democrats, according to a study by the Republican opposition research firm America Rising.

Using the venerable nonpartisan Cook Political Report ratings of House races, the GOP group compiled a chart of undecided Democrats and found many on the fence are the same ones the Cook Report says are facing tough elections next year. A couple already oppose strikes.

Only one, West Virginia Rep. Nick Rahall (who Cook places in a "Lean Democratic" race next year), has pledged to support congressional authorization for strikes.

America Rising's chart includes whether the vulnerable Democrats signed onto either of the two bipartisan letters sent to Obama last month calling for Congress to weigh in on Syria. One was authored by Virginia Republican Rep. Scott Rigell, and the other was written by California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee.

Obama gave the signatories what they wanted when he called on Congress to authorize his plan to strike Syria. But only a few of the vulnerable Democrats signed either of the letters, per the America Rising study. Some Democrats have hinted they'll wait to hear what Obama has to say in his White House address on Syria next week before making up their minds, but the Republicans at America Rising say the fact that Obama hasn't already earned the support of so many vulnerable members of his own party shows that they think his war will be a drag on them next year.

"Democrats who are facing tough reelections in 2014 are either in hiding or trying to run away from a president whose agenda is wildly unpopular with voters in their districts," said Tim Miller, executive director of America Rising.

America Rising's list of vulnerable House Democrats on Syria, shared with BuzzFeed: