Monday, April 14, 2008

A Tactical Mistake? Why Obama Should Face Clinggate Head On. (JM)

Greg Sargent over at TPM has a recording a robocall going out in PA, from the mayor of York. Essentially it is a push back over the bitterness comments, which you can read in the post below. However, the tactic seems to focus on the "bitter" portion of his remarks, rather than the idea of "clinging to religion and guns". This seems like a really poor decision on the part of the Obama camp. Obama supporters seem to be getting indignant and dismissive, saying that Obama misspoke but the "bitterness" is real. This is just not going to fly.

No one, no one in the world thinks that rural Pennsylvanians are not bitter. Of course they are. The question the Obama raised, and the one that is going to be constantly repeated by the GOP, is how Obama really sees both religious belief and gun-ownership. I think it is rather unambiguous that these comments tied their belief-systems to their social position and desperation and no amount of spin is going to make this disappear. Mickey Kaus, at Slate, had a very effective explanation of the real issues behind these remarks. What this leaves me with is the fear that at this point it won't be enough to turn things around for Hillary, but it'll be just enough to help McCain drub Obama in the general.

Let's take a quick look at a few key swing states:

1. Florida- Obama is already polling poorly against McCain here. McCain has strength amongst older voters, Jewish voters and Hispanic voters. These are all groups amongst which Obama runs quite weakly. But let's not forget Obama's weakness doesn't end here, because of the debacle with not allowing a revote in Florida. I am not excited to rehash the "Who Killed the Florida Relection Debate", though I suppose if you really want to do this throw it down in the comment section and bring it on, but either way Obama is clearly perceived as one of the key figures in preventing a revote. All of this spells a lot of bad news for the Dems in Florida.

2. Michigan- Obama appears to be running even with McCain here, though the fall out of not seating the delegates may impact him at some point in the future. Regarding his recent comments he is probably okay here. If the Dems are going to win Michigan it will be on the back of economic progress, not social issues.

3. Ohio- Very similar demographics to Pennsylvania with a little bit of Michigan on the side. This is not a disaster scenario for the Democrats, but this certainly hurts Obama amongst the Huckabee populists, a group he had hopes of courting before this debacle occurred. This is yet another state in which Hillary is running much stronger than Obama.

4. Pennsylvania- I honestly think that if things stand as they do now, this literally kills any chance Obama had of taking PA. We'll need to wait to see new polls, but there was already a dearth of support amongst the working class in Pennsylvania. Obama's PA base will stay with the party regardless of the nominee, Hillary's is far less likely to do so. It's hard to imagine Obama winning PA, but impossible if he doesn't address this issue head on, instead of pretend there is much ado about nothing.

5. The New Map- One of the cornerstone arguments amongst friends of mine regarding the ascendancy of Barack Obama, is that he redraws the electoral map for the Democrats. I very much look forward to this day, but I am more skeptical than others. Let's take one example of this kind of state, perhaps the most favorable one, Virginia. Certainly the demographics of Virginia have become more and more conduced to electing a Democratic candidate. As the northern suburbs fill out with D.C. commuters and traditional liberal households, Democrats gain strength. However, these very comments, ones that can easily be perceived as denigrating those that believe in both religion and guns, are likely to provoke resentment in the very swing voters we'd require to win the state. Religion and guns are not just core beliefs, but part of a fundamental identity of many of these individuals. If this is true, and these comments stick, there will be no new map and we will be listening to States of the Union from President McCain while Wilford Brimley stares sternly out at the television audience from his seat next to Nancy Pelosi (that's right, Vice President Brimley, you heard it here first).

This is not to say that I think superdelegates need to take a second look at Hillary. Well, I mean, I do, but I think it is pointless at this time. I think the Dems (the ones who are not me at least) are about to reap what they've sewed. If Obama's team and supporters continue to just pretend that this was no big deal this will never die. If this never dies then the Rascal Scooter ready for the White House, because John McCain is coming to stay.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

First, yes "bittergate" needs to be faced head on; by the Democratic party.

Yes, what he said makes rational sense.

The disconnect is that voters don't vote on rational decision making.

A brilliant book on this is "The Political Brain" in which the author , a PHD from Emory University, states that for the past 100 years voters do not vote based on rational decision making and "issues".

DEMS think that this is the case.

And they lose, again and again.

Tactically, also, robo calls don't work. Never have.

Yale University professors Green and Gerber studied their effectiveness in their groundbreaking book "GOTV" published by Brookings. They found robo calls are useless.


Shaun Dakin