Jay Reding.com

Losing The Heartland

In The New Republic, John B. Judis takes a hard look at the fallout of Obama’s “clinging to religion” comments, especially in light of the need for the Democrats to make inroads into heartland states. He comes to the same conclusions that many are coming to: the electoral math just doesn’t favor Obama:

To win in November, a Democratic presidential candidate has to carry most of the industrial heartland states that stretch from Pennsylvania to Missouri. That becomes even more imperative if a Democrat can’t carry Florida–and because of his relative weakness in South Florida, Obama is unlikely to do so against McCain. Ruy Teixeira and I have calculated that in the heartland states, a Democratic presidential candidate has to win from 45 to 48 percent of the white working class vote. In some states, like West Virginia and Kentucky, the percentage is well over a majority.

Some Democrats insist that Obama need not worry about these states because he will be able to make up for a defeat in Ohio or even Pennsylvania with a victory in Virginia or Colorado. But in Virginia, McCain will be able to draw upon coastal suburbanites closely tied to the military. These voters backed Democrats like Chuck Robb and Jim Webb, who are both veterans, but they may not go for Obama. And in the Southwest, McCain will be able to challenge Obama among Hispanics. So to win in November, Obama will have to win almost all of these heartland states. Which is a problem, because even before he uttered his infamous words about these voters “clinging” to guns, religion, abortion, and fears about free trade, Obama looked vulnerable in the region. A look at the white working class’s relationship with earlier Democratic candidates underscores the various reasons why.

His analysis is interesting, as he explains how Democrats have successfully won in the heartland, and why that matters in 2008. With John McCain as the nominee, the Democrats are going to face an uphill battle. McCain is hardly a tool of the political machine, he’s a bona-fide war hero, and it’s going to be hard to paint him as some kind of radical extremist.

The Democratic race keeps getting more and more interesting. Before Obama’s moment of honesty in San Francisco it was looking like Hillary Clinton was inevitable—an inevitable failure. Now, Democrats have to question whether they want to go with the devil they know or a candidate who could end with the same set of electoral liabilities as John Kerry, and then some.

The Democrats cannot win on a bi-coastal ticket. While it’s not at all certain that the 2000-2004 electoral map will be relevant in 2008, it’s as good as starting point as any. Could Obama pick off enough states from the Republican column to win? Possibly, but he could also cause the Democrats to lose key states like Florida or even Pennsylvania. The Democrats cannot ignore the heartland, and when the leading Democratic candidate so brazenly insults heartland voters, it doesn’t help. It truly doesn’t help when the Democratic Party endorses those insults. In the end, Barack Obama may capture the hearts of Democratic primary voters, but he may lose the general election in a landslide.

3 responses to “Losing The Heartland”

  1. Mark says:

    “McCain is hardly a tool of the political machine, he’s a bona-fide war hero”

    So is John Kerry. Not that it stopped the shameless political right from trying to say that he was unheroic in Vietnam, and that he denigates troops every chance he gets. Following the lead of your ilk, it would not be out of the question to paint McCain as somebody who despises the troops and/or behaved shamefully during his military service.

    “and it’s going to be hard to paint him as some kind of radical extremist.”

    The man’s thirst for Arab blood is so unquenchable he devises makeshift jingles about bombing Iran and sings them on camera. Particularly as the country moves left, it won’t be as hard as you to suggest to paint McCain as a right-wing radical.

    “Possibly, but he could also cause the Democrats to lose key states like Florida or even Pennsylvania.”

    Again, the Democrats are certain to lose Florida with McCain on the ticket, and Pennsylvania seems fairly perfect for him as well. Your thesis that Hillary would beat McCain in those states just because she’s doing better than Obama in those states is artificial…and intentionally so.

    “when the leading Democratic candidate so brazenly insults heartland voters”

    The polling evidence thus far is not backing up the claim, no matter how frequently and aggressively you and your fellow stooges assert it, that “the heartland” just does not seem to be as “brazenly insulted” by Obama’s comments as your game plan has been counting on.

  2. Jay Reding says:

    So is John Kerry.

    John Kerry served, but he was hardly a hero. He was never captured, never seriously injured, and when he returned stateside he slandered the honor of his fellow soldiers, including Sen. McCain.

    The man’s thirst for Arab blood is so unquenchable he devises makeshift jingles about bombing Iran and sings them on camera.

    You do realize how deeply insane you sound, right?

    Again, the Democrats are certain to lose Florida with McCain on the ticket, and Pennsylvania seems fairly perfect for him as well. Your thesis that Hillary would beat McCain in those states just because she’s doing better than Obama in those states is artificial…and intentionally so.

    If the Democrats can’t take Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio, there’s a good chance that the Democrats can’t win at all then. They need to take two out of the three to win, even if one or the other picks up an additional state like Colorado.

    The polling evidence thus far is not backing up the claim, no matter how frequently and aggressively you and your fellow stooges assert it, that “the heartland” just does not seem to be as “brazenly insulted” by Obama’s comments as your game plan has been counting on.

    That’s not what ARG says.

    Obama’s idiocy won’t necessarily hurt him in the Democratic primary (although it will in PA), but it’s going to seriously hurt him in the general, and last I checked the general is the election that actually counts for getting the Presidency…

  3. Mark says:

    “John Kerry served, but he was hardly a hero. He was never captured, never seriously injured”

    Three purple hearts say he’s a hero. I’m betting that millions of the veterans who you claim to speak for would be “bitterly” offended at your implication that has to be captured or seriously injured in combat to be a war hero.

    “If the Democrats can’t take Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio, there’s a good chance that the Democrats can’t win at all then. They need to take two out of the three to win, even if one or the other picks up an additional state like Colorado.”

    I agree….and you’ll notice that’s consistent with my long-standing prediction that John McCain will win the Presidency against either of these two unelectable “celebrity candidates”.

    “That’s not what ARG says.”

    True, but it is what every other pollster is saying, be it Gallup, Rasmussen, and Reuters, all of whom are showing Hillary is taking a hit in the polls for looking like a phony opportunist while Obama has, if anything, gotten a bounce.

    “Obama’s idiocy won’t necessarily hurt him in the Democratic primary (although it will in PA), but it’s going to seriously hurt him in the general, and last I checked the general is the election that actually counts for getting the Presidency…”

    The poll they just showed on CBS News has Obama within five of Hillary…on par with what his optimistic polls were showing pre-Bittergate. I don’t believe Obama will ultimately come within five, but it’s doubtful there’s been any real loss of support in PA for him. As I predicted, people are starting to believe Hillary overdid it in her response…just as many are likely to believe your ilk has overdone it come November after several months of trying to exploit the culture war. While I don’t believe Obama can become Presidency, it’s incredibly unlikely that anything he said last week in San Francisco will what denies it to him.