Obama's Written-Off ConstituencyHillary Clinton utterly destroyed Barack Obama in the West Virginia Primary last night by 41 points. The drubbing was so bad for Obama that he was only able to keep Clinton's vote totals below 50% in a single county-Jefferson County, which sits in on the Maryland-Virginia line not far from Washington. Further, exit polls indicated that a majority of Mountain State voters went for Clinton whether they had a college degree (54%) or not (69%). Further, some exit polling indicated that West Virginians did not believe Barack Obama shared their values.
This victory underscored Barack Obama's weakness with blue-collar white voters, who are the country's largest single voting bloc. To some, pointing out this reality makes one a racist. It is not the least bit racist to point out what the numbers and the facts are saying. The most troubling exit poll statistic for Barack Obama is the one that says that those who voted against him yesterday are willing to do so again:
Barely a third of Clinton supporters say they'd vote for Obama over John McCain
in a November matchup. As many claim they'd vote for Republican John McCain and
a quarter said they would not vote for president. If that horse race were
Clinton vs. McCain, half of Obama backers say they'd vote for Clinton, about
three in 10 say they'd back McCain and the rest would stay home.
As much as Obama's backers do not want to hear it, these numbers show that Hillary Clinton's electability argument has real teeth. Obama can win the nomination, but at what cost to Democrats? All of these people who voted against him in the primaries will do it again in November, which will more than balance off any Republican vote losses to Bob Barr (which I do not believe will be very high, sans Pat Buchanan and Reform in 2000), and has the potential to turn into a real Electoral College rout. There is the very real possibility that Barack Obama could win the popular vote by getting his turnout machine mobilized in major cities, but lose the election by a relatively large Electoral College margin. Obama could also be beaten in a landslide that makes 1984 look like a walk in the park for the Democrats.
For conservatives, there is what Adam Graham rightly calls a "nightmare scenario" that could develop. Republicans continue to lose Congressional seats in special byelections, losing a key race in Mississippi last night. We could see a scenario develop where John McCain beats Barack Obama significantly in November, while Democrats pick up even more seats in the House. To the casual observer, this appears to defy logic-but John McCain has a lot of crossover appeal to Democrats. These are people who would likely have no trouble voting for McCain at the head of the ticket and voting Democratic in downticket races, and let's face it-McCain doesn't give one wit about the political welfare of the Republican Party as a whole, he just wants to be the President. If that is the situation that unfolds in November, it could produce a serious long-term split in the Republican Party. This isn't likely to create three parties, but would greatly reorganize the two-party system in our country.
As for Barack Obama, he is in for even more electoral rude awakenings. His people are already writing off West Virginia in the fall...I think they do so at their peril, because it says a lot-not about West Virginia's political importance, but about the kind of people his campaign is discarding so readily-the very demographic he needs most in order to win in November.
SOME PERSONAL NOTES: As you might have read in previous posts, I have familial roots and heritage in West Virginia, so I watched this primary with great interest. My great-uncle (maternal side), Dan Neely, served as the County Assessor in Fayette County for nearly a quarter-century. In the Democratic Primary in Fayette County last night, Hillary Clinton won with a whopping 70% of the vote to 22% for Obama. Such totals throughout Southern West Virginia cannot be viewed merely as an embrace of the Clintons-but as an explicit rejection of Barack Obama, especially since West Virginia Democrats opened their primary process to unaffiliated voters (but not to registered Republicans) for the first time ever yesterday. Sure, some Republicans did manage to seep through, but remember that Democratic registration in West Virginia already hovers around 70% Statewide. That is one of the highest such percentages in the country, yet Democrats haven't been able to carry the State in 12 years in a presidential vote.