Obama is Weak in Key General Election States

Obama is Weak in Key Gen. Election States

By Steven Stark
Two weeks ago we noted that, in spite of all the press hype promoting Barack Obama, the Democrats were only two steps away from chaos in their nomination process.

Now make that one step.

An Obama sweep this past Tuesday was probably never in the cards, given Hillary Clinton’s strength among working-class voters and Hispanics, which she’s had virtually all along. But a Clinton sweep of Texas and Ohio is something the media did not prepare for, as they ignored the evidence staring them in the face and essentially drove Obama around the track for a victory lap before the race had ever taken place.

Now the party has a huge problem. Sure, Obama has a narrow lead among elected delegates — a margin he’s likely to hold after the run of primaries ends in June. And, on paper, he’s still the current favorite to win the nomination in August.

But if Obama emerges as the nominee, it’s now clear his campaign is headed into the autumn homestretch with some enormous holes.

Foremost among them is that Obama has yet to win a major state other than his own (Illinois) because he’s still having trouble appealing to both Hispanics and working-class Democrats –those so-called Reagan Democrats. As early as this past November, the Pew Forum was picking up signs in its polls that Obama was running significantly worse among Catholics than he was among virtually any other demographic group in the electorate.

That’s still true. Unfortunately for Obama, Hispanics and working-class voters are two groups with some affinity for John McCain. In recent head-to-head polls, for example, McCain handily beat Obama by double digits in Florida — a state once considered a key toss-up. In another poll, the presumed GOP nominee is slightly ahead of Obama in New Jersey, a blue state in which John Kerry defeated George Bush by seven percentage points in 2004.

Color by numbers

These are worrying signs for the Democrats, should Obama be the nominee, especially now that it appears the Obama-Clinton contest could drag on for months, further weakening whoever emerges as the Democratic candidate. Michael Barone, the ace principal author of The Almanac of American Politics, recently wrote that an Obama-McCain race would redraw the red-state-blue-state map of the past few elections. But a more accurate analysis is that while McCain would be competitive in many states — even California — once considered safely Democratic, it’s hard to see as many comparable states where Obama might do the same.

In addition to California, McCain has a reasonable shot at winning blue states Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and maybe even Wisconsin and Michigan, not to mention the key swing state of Ohio. Obama, on the other hand, has a shot at red states New Mexico, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, and Virginia. McCain has the better hand to play.

This general-election weakness for Obama is sure to be an argument pressed by the Clinton forces in the days ahead. True, she probably wouldn’t have a chance in any of the red states that Obama might contest, either. But in her favor is the fact that, while her appeal to Independents is limited, she’d be far likelier to run stronger against McCain in Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California.

The obvious problem now is that the longer the two front-runners engage each other, the less time either has to shore up weaknesses before the fall campaign. With the news that Florida governor Charlie Crist will consider allowing Democrats to restage their primary, this is now a process that could go into July without a clear winner. The few upcoming large states — Pennsylvania and, now, maybe Florida — favor Clinton. The longer Obama remains subject to attack by his opponent and a press anxious to repent (once again) for having gotten it all wrong, the weaker he will become. And once the primaries end, no one will have a clear majority, meaning there could well be a fierce contest for the superdelegates, triggering a contentious party civil war. McCain is thanking his lucky stars.

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7 comments

  1. I really hope that Mrs. Clinton not only gets the nomination but also gets the presidency. I am confident that she and her husband will be so preoccupied with the “Clinton Legacy” that they will have little time to overcome the vast bureaucratic inertia that is Washington let alone have enough time to screw up the country.
    FOUR MORE YEARS! Looking forward to the high comedy that only another Clinton presidency can offer.

  2. I just saw on channel 2 and channel 11 5 o’clock news the little boy who was burned over 70% of his body and lost his brother and friend in a Christmas tree fire. I know that his family was not the only family this year that had child and family deaths caused by Christmas tree fires. I suggest that everyone who purchases a Christmas tree be required by law to also purchase a fire extinguisher. No lives should be lost.

  3. There are no many lifeline Democrats that vow to vote for McCain if Hillary wins the Presidency. Many Americans are aware of the unethical behavior of our elected officials and see this as an impediment to our wellbeing as a nation. And the Clintons are notorious for unethical behavior.

    And she has the nerve to suggest a “Clinton/Obama” ticket. I would surely hope he has more sense than to sully his political career and spirituality by hooking up with Hillary.

    We NEED to clean up Washington – and throw the Clintons out of our government.

  4. Who just voted for Hillary? It’s hard to believe that anyone (except Republican) cound buy her obivious tactics. Attack – Attack – Attack then cry Victim – Victim – Victim. I thought she said “think of this like a job application.” Okay, forget submitting your resume. Just bad mouth everyone else. That’s not what I taught my kids about how to be successful. Some role model for all the young people getting nterested in politics.

    Just when I thought people were waking up and rejecting those tactics (and they are so obivious), Texas and Ohio to Hillary that they work. Sad.

    Hillary, you will never get my vote. Not now. Not ever.

  5. Charlotte, I am a Democrat, as a lot of my friends who “vow” they will not vote for Obama. So, guess who wins??!!! You got it!!! John McCain!! We are concerned with your candidate as much as you evidently are concerned with ours – Hillary. Well, one nice thing, with McCain we know basically what to expect, as the same would be with Clinton. With Obama, we just are not sure what it would be like with him. I think that is why a lot of Democrats won’t risk their vote on someone as “uncertain” as Obama!!!

  6. Clinton calls herself a “fighter,” and I can not help but think of George W. Both George W. and McCain also tout themselves as “fighters,” and I don’t really think the American public wants “fighters” anymore.

    George W. was a fighter in Florida of 2000… why he “fought” his way to the white house through the Supreme Court didn’t he? McCain is calling himself a “fighter” ready to keep the US in Iraq for a 100 more years. Now Hillary is willing to “fight on” despite the realistic evidence that it will not only alienate voters, but damage her own reputation and the party’s chances of winning in the fall. Do we really need more “fighters?”

    I really think the American public is used to a reactionary style politics where every blow is traded blow for blow. Just because we’re used to it doesn’t mean it is the only way to be successful in politics. Kerry made the mistake of leaving the Swift Boat attacks unanswered. But his biggest mistake was not answering them sooner, because he did answer them. His biggest mistake was not to work 25 hours a day – clarifying the issue until the Americans got their facts straight, knew who to believe and were quite frankly sick of hearing about it. When someone shocks you with falsehood you respond by an overbearing abundance of the truth.

    If Obama wants to succeed he needs to work 25 hours a day keeping the facts straight so that he is the one dictating what the talking points are on CNN and FOX and not the rumor mills the gossip columns and the web blogs (except this one). He needs to be almost overbearing in his pursuit of the truth and the representation of it, whatever it may be.

    Because only he knows his story and only he can tell his story. But if he is who he says he is, as Doctor Phil (Operah’s buddy) says, “A man who has nothing to hide hides from nothing.”

    The Republicans do it all the time. They give a press conference and they tell you exactly what they want you to hear no more no less. Why should it be so hard for Obama?

    The Democratic nominee will win states like California and New York, the bread and butter Democratic states. Hillary won them out of name recognition, over 10% of the California votes were cast by absentee ballots a month before Iowa and Obama’s surge. He has still closed the gap in all of these states, he closed a 20 point gap in Ohio to lose by 6 points, and contrary to what this article states Obama actually won Texas in consideration of both contests. Hillary grandstanding in Ohio about her victories is almost as bad as Edwards grandstanding in Iowa about a 2 point win over Hillary.

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