Monday, June 16, 2008

Obama's Running Mate Canundrum

Newsweek's Andrew Romano reveals via Stumper why he doesn't believe Barack Obama is likely to choose Hillary Clinton as his running mate:

Not likely. Clinton brings more pluses to the ticket than any other contender--but she also brings more minuses. For every possible pro, in fact, there seems to be an equal and opposite con. For example: proponents of the pairing say that Clinton would assist Obama electorally by solidifying his support among the 18 million voters--many of them older women, Latinos and working-class whites--who chose her over him in the Democratic primaries. That's undoubtedly true. But even though Clinton would shore up some of Obama's demographic soft spots, she could do him irreparable damage elsewhere.

Take those blue-collar voters. As The New Republic's Noam Scheiber has written, "working-class whites who vote in Democratic primaries are often very different from the working-class whites who don't." That is, while the first group seems to dislike Obama, the second group--i.e., Republicans and independents--seems to dislike Hillary. (Overall, 67 percent of Republicans have very unfavorable views of Clinton, 24 percentage points more than feel that way about Obama; among independents, Clinton's 32 percent negative rating among Independents is 10 points worse than Obama's.) The result: you "risk alienating two groups of working-class whites by putting her on the ticket."

Far more to the point than even Romano is able to isolate here, Barack Obama has a great deal of trouble with working-class white voters, but these same voters are not, as a group, fond of Senator Clinton either. Those blue collar voters who felt compelled to vote in the Democratic primaries-and who voted in overwhelming numbers for Hillary Clinton-seem to have done so as much (or more) out of a sense of voting against Barack Obama, as out of any loyalty to Senator Clinton.

After the divisiveness of this primary season, many of these voters will be likely to go for John McCain in November. I've spoken with a few Democratic "homers" over the last few days who will say, as can be expected, that they believe Barack Obama will win. The difficulties that Obama will face go beyond mere political considerations. Considering that reality, Obama doesn't need a running mate who appeals to one or two prime political subgroups. To win in November, Barack Obama needs a running mate who can hit the proverbial political grand slam.

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At Tuesday, June 17, 2008 5:10:00 PM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

Colin Powell brings more pluses to the ticket than Clinton, far fewer negatives, and yes, hits a grand slam...


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