Obama’s “Bitter” Comments Won’t Hurt Him Much Beyond the Rust Belt

Politico senior writer David Paul Kuhn has an in-depth look about how Democrats have been branded as elitist and how Barack Obama‘s comments “may prove to be the keystone in the arc of Republican attacks.” He argues that attacks work when they reinforce real perceptions and that voters are beginning to perceive Obama as a snob:

“Last year he responded to an Iowa farmers concerns about crop prices by asking if ‘anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?’ There are no Whole Foods in Iowa. Recently Obama tried to bowl in Pennsylvania and looked like the sort of Democrat who thinks of Whole Foods when discussing crop prices. Now Obama talks about what drives rural voters’ cultural concerns and ends up looking like the kind of Democrat who bowls a 37 in seven frames. Soon there is a storyline. The silly is now serious.”

Where will this hurt Obama?

Certainly in the Pennsylvania and Indiana primaries. And if Obama holds on and becomes the nominee, he’ll take a hit in the already-tough state of Ohio. But the main areas of concern should be Pennsylvania and Michigan, which have the kind of blue-collar, conservative Dems that this comment is likely to offend.

The silver lining is that his remarks will hurt him with a constituency that he was never really popular with. The “beer track” Reagan Dems have never been in his camp, and his roadmap to the White House doesn’t go throught Appalachia but through exurban and suburban counties in Western and mid-Atlantic states.

I don’t see how it offends many of the voters in Suburbia, USA who care about issues like roads and schools rather than abortion and guns. For proof, look at Jerry Kilgore‘s failed attempts to take down Tim Kaine with attacks about the death penalty. Those arguments didn’t fly in Loudoun County, Prince William and Hampton Roads (they actually created a backlash) and Kaine went on to win the exurbs on his way to winning the Executive Mansion.

These suburban and exurban independents — not Reagan Democrats — are the voters that help Obama expand the electoral map.

Rust Belt (CoalCampUSA.com)

Rust Belt

2005 Virginia Governor in Loudoun County, Va. (PatrickOttenhoff.com) — Loudoun is a good example of an exurban county Obama should focus on.


2 responses to “Obama’s “Bitter” Comments Won’t Hurt Him Much Beyond the Rust Belt

  1. First Time Poster

    You can’t extrapolate VA in ’08 by looking at what happened in an off cycle election. Those sub/ex urban voters will be joined by about 25% more of the state.

    Obama seems to have 2 paths to the WH: CO + VA or OH. Clinton seems to have only OH. The question to superdelegates should be, “which do you think is plausible?”

  2. The problem for Obama (as with the Jeremiah Wright statements) is that it subtly changes his perception among the public each time something like this comes up. A mere two months ago, he was a rock star. Now, he looks like a typical politician with questionable associates and holier-than-thou opinions.

    He could easily remedy the situation by issuing genuine apologies, as this would reinforce his message of a new kind of politics. Instead, he issues statements about how he didn’t hear Rev. Wright’s sermons, or how he said “cling” when he meant to say “cherish.” That’s not going to work.

    That being said, I still expect Virginia to go to Obama in November, unless even more of these mini-scandals continue to pile up.

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