You want this voter apathy distilled down to its essence? Obama shouldn't have nominated a white guy:
PACE: I sat in on some focus groups this past week with both swing voters and Republican voters, and some of the questions they were asked were about the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. And this was a real reality check for anyone in Washington who thinks that this issue is really animating voters across the country. I was so struck by how these voters seemed comply uninterested in the nomination fight.Among the swing voters, not one of them said that this was something that would really impact their vote in the fall. And even among the Republican voters who felt like this nomination should wait until the next president, almost none felt like this was an issue that was going to affect their vote either in the presidential race or in their Senate race.
KING: Nice try Mr. President, I guess is the result.
Nobody cares about a white, male nominee. Judge Garland is vanilla. Conventional. Boring. So the Republicans are blockading a white guy. Big deal. Where the controversy in that to capture the low-information voters' attention? The White House can't demagogue Senate GOPers as "racists" and/or "sexists" for shafting a white guy. Maybe if they'd sent Garland in for "gender reassignment," his nomination might have made some identity politics headway, but as it is, he's got too little pigmentation and the wrong genitalia, and unless he lets himself be discovered engaging in public pole-smoking, Democrats' full-court press will just have no "there" there.
The WaPo didn't put it quite that baldly, but they basically concur:
The Democrats have tried to take every opportunity they have, they’ve poured millions of dollars into attacking Republican senators without any real effect. The Republican coalition has held firm, and I think you’ve seen people coming out of those meetings even more convinced that Judge Garland is not the right person to carry on in Justice Scalia’s footsteps. In the middle of an election year it makes the most sense to let the people have a voice. We’re going to wait on this, and then we’ll have an opportunity to discuss the merits of Garland in particular more in November, at least in terms of the Senate.
O should have nominated Loretta Lynch. Senate 'Pubbies would have balked - at first. But they'd have been worn down eventually, and if they weren't, incessant, shameless playing of the race card would have fired up the Donk base for Hillary Clinton. By trying to be too clever by half by trying to take away reasons for Republican opposition instead of playing his usual "[BLEEP] you!" hardball, he's ensuring that they won't be subjected to public pressure. He made an unheard-of unforced error.
Stunning, isn't it?
Not that he couldn't just withdraw Garland's nomination and appoint Lynch in his place. If anybody could have an infinite supply of mulligans, it'd be Barack Obama. After all, anything else would be "racist".