Obama’s General Election Problem

By Jennifer Parker

Mar 6, 2008 12:58pm

Very smart column by Mari Cocco in which she contemplates Sen. Barack Obama’s limited appeal in battleground states — Ohio, for one — that the Democratic presidential candidate will need to win in order to win the White House.

"There is a reason some states are called general election ‘battlegrounds,’" she writes. "It is because partisan identification is roughly even, or because certain groups in the electorate, such as Catholics, Hispanics or blue-collar whites, switch their allegiances—or split their votes. That’s why Clinton made so much in her victory speech about the ‘bellwether’ nature of Ohio…

"There is no papering over the depth of the problem Obama faced there. He won only five of the state’s 88 counties, an inauspicious foundation for a general election campaign. Clinton trounced him among Catholic voters, 63 percent to 36 percent, according to exit polls. She beat him among voters in every income category and bested him by 14 points among those making less than $50,000 annually.

"This is why Pennsylvania, which is demographically similar to Ohio—and a must-win state for Democrats in November—is considered such fertile ground for Clinton on April 22.

"The Democratic Party is indeed developing a general election problem, and it’s only partly because Obama and Clinton will be sniping at one another for the next seven weeks. Obama, the leading candidate, still hasn’t shown he has appeal in a large battleground state that will be pivotal in the fall. In this sense, Pennsylvania is where Obama’s back, and not Clinton’s, is up against the wall."

- jpt

UPDATE: Obama campaign spox Bill Burton emails to say: "This would have made more sense had we not won Missouri and had not won landslide victories in Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado.  Forty states have voted, of which we’ve won a vast majority, and this one is supposed to be the singular bellwether? Balderdash."

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