April 23, 2008

Dems 2008: Barack Obama may be the next McGovern, but 2008 may not be 1972 [Karl]

The notion that Barack Obama is the second coming of George McGovern is taking hold across the ideological spectrum.  At TNR, John B. Judis writes that Obama’s vote in Pennsylvania took on the shape of a McGovernite coalition led by college students and minorities:

Its ideology is very liberal. Whereas in the first primaries and caucuses, Obama benefited from being seen as middle-of-the-road or even conservative, he is now receiving his strongest support from voters who see themselves as “very liberal.” In Pennsylvania, he defeated Clinton among “very liberal” voters by 55 to 45 percent, but lost “somewhat conservative” voters by 53 to 47 percent and moderates by 60 to 40 percent. In Wisconsin and Virginia, by contrast, he had done best against Clinton among voters who saw themselves as moderate or somewhat conservative.

Obama even seems to be acquiring the religious profile of the old McGovern coalition. In the early primaries and caucuses, Obama did very well among the observant. In Maryland, he defeated Clinton among those who attended religious services weekly by 61 to 31 percent. By contrast, in Pennsylvania, he lost to Clinton among these voters by 58 to 42 percent and did best among voters who never attend religious services, winning them by 56 to 44 percent. There is nothing wrong with winning over voters who are very liberal and who never attend religious services; but if they begin to become Obama’s most fervent base of support, he will have trouble (to say the least) in November.

At NRO, Victor Davis Hanson sees a McGovernite tinge to Obama’s inability to win key states in a general election, concluding that:

More and more, McCain will want to run against Obama and his far weaker coalition of elite whites, African-Americans, students — and closets of skeletons. More and more, we will start to see the buyer’s remorse of midsummer 1972.

There is a McGovernite dynamic in the way that Obama mobilized antiwar voters to surge past the nominal front-runner by winning caucuses in normally Republican states.  So much so that former McGovernite Hillary Clinton should be kicking herself for not seeing it coming.  The 3-D analysis of the modern Democratic coalition written earlier this month by John G. Caulfield (which I recommend again) neatly points out that Obama’s coalition joins Gary Hart voters with Jesse Jackson voters in a way not seen since 1972, if ever.  It is usually the Gary Hart voter — the upscale white progressive — who does not get his or her first choice as the nominee.

Fortunately for Obama, despite the presence of an unpopular war, 2008 may not be 1972 revisited.  Rather, this cycle has shaped up as part of  a recurring 16-year cycle of “change” elections — 1960, 1976 and 1992.  Democrats tend to eke out a victory in such elections. 

However, JFK did not carry the baggage of the New Left with him.  Carter and Clinton were both Southerners; neither ran as McGovernite.  Moreover, Carter unapologetically touted that he was a born again Christian.

This is why the trends identified by Judis are ominous for Obama in a way young wippersnappers like Ezra Klein do not understand.  Obama started this campaign with great appeal to religious folk, as Carter had.  Obama also had a more moderate image that would appeal to Clinton ’92 voters, especially given Obama’s emphasis on hopeyness and changitude.

Now, Obama seems to have less appeal to religious white voters, moderates and independents.  In this context, it is hard to discount Obama’s 20-year relationship with the noxious Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Obama’s own “clingy” kerfuffle as corrosive.  He finds himself in a fight with Hillary Clinton, with his campaign talking about taking the gloves off, even if in a measured way. 

The pitfall for Obama here is that the negativity of the Pennsylvania Democratic campaign tarnished both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, according to exit poll results.  He must defend himself, but Obama’s appeal is to lovers, not fighters.  Judis notes that in Pennsylvania, Obama lost ground among the upscale white professionals in Montgomery and Bucks counties.   That is a core component of Obama’s coalition.  If Obama starts losing the latte liberals, he risks losing primaries (and key demos in primaries he wins) by a large enough margin to play into the Clinton superdelegate strategy of raising doubts about his electability.

(h/t Memeorandum.)

Posted by Karl @ 1:59pm
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Comments (31)

  1. Bitter butt plug!

    O!

  2. I always wonder how Carter, a born-again Christian and part-time Sunday School teacher, was President and we didn’t descend into a hellish theocracy….

  3. There is a good article about this issue in Salon.com as well. Something about “How We Are Screwed Either Way: A Historical Perspective”.

  4. ive said all along that if you want a GOP POTUS then you want Obama running; at some point, this guy is going to openly play his cards and it will be near game, set, match time.

    while im no fan of mccain or obama or hillary, i really am done with GWB. the guy cant leave soon enough to suit me. He seems an appealing enough fellow, but has been useless for several years now. McCain is an asshat, but he isnt GWB, so he has that going for him.

  5. Obama’s tragedy is that he threw away everything that could have made him a genuine agent of “change” and embraced the pathologies that prevent it. Somebody — photoshop a bow tie onto this prick and he’s done.

  6. Lisa: Ha!

    I was surprised by the numbers that came out of Bucks and Montgomery Counties. He won by a razor thin margin in Delaware county which is only slightly more working class. If Obama was appealing to “latte liberals” he should have taken Bucks and Mont. counties relatively easily. The worse party for him is how badly he got creamed in the small town rural areas.

    But those are just all the bitter, gun toting, snake handling racists so no matter!

  7. Charlie Sykes, a local Milwaukee AM host, had some great coverage on this very same article. Of course, for how excellent Charlie is, I think Karl has done an excellent job dissecting the McGovern parallels. A couple of things I’ll pass on from Charlie this morning are worth mentioning over and over again. I know we’ve covered most of this ground here before but…:

    1) Clinton will never go peacefully – she will slash and burn the entire field if it comes down to it. And yes, even if it means the Dems are more likely not to prevail in the fall
    2) there is ZERO chance of the Hopey-O settling for a brokered situation, wherein she gets the nod for POTUS and he gets to ride shotgun as VP
    3) If FL votes are included in the gross votes, Hillary already can claim she has won the all-important popular vote (sounding the familiar down-with-the-“electoral college” mantra)
    4) Hillary has now won all of the big states… of which, all except TX need to go to the Dems in the Fall in order for them to win.
    5) Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico – 63 Delegates… assigned en masse (as Karl has pointed out here before)

    How the dems pull this one from the jaws of defeat is beyond me.

    Do they really ignore FL? And if they don’t ignore the florida tally, how do they rationalize not allowing a “re-vote”, “re-count” or some sort of representation from the Michiganders?

    And if Hillary gets the nod, some 15% or so of likely Dems claim they will vote for McCain… and a similar number given the opposite scenario. [Citations Needed...]

    This is, as it were, extremely fascinating… in that it was created By Them, For Them (BUFU) ™, which not so oddly is what the Dems are at this point… completely BU**FU^%ED.

    And then there is the Black Bloc (and it is in fact a Bloc, given that despite the 2 candidates near-identical stances, 90% indicates either a good deal of Sexism or Racism). Can you imagine Teh Disenfranchisementness!!!! should Hillary get the nod?

  8. Only 73% of Republicans voted for grandpa McCain in Pennsylvania. 27% abandoned him for Paul and Huckabee. This is the harbinger of things to come as we move into a new Great Depression. The more the economy tanks–the better for the Democratic Party. And don’t be surprised if there is a revolution at the Republican Convention when the delegates abandon grandpa for Ron Paul.

  9. - Lanny Davis is happy.

  10. Ardie – I am widely accused of being a lunatic… but reading that last comment makes me feel sane. Normal almost.

  11. Hey Ardie, what % of Republicans voted for Hillary?

    schmoe

  12. Yeah, shocking how McCain did a primary that no one cared about.

    And given that I have written about Paulians’ efforts to get delegates at the convention, I would be shocked, because they are getting more than they should, but not near enough to make for any sort of contest.

  13. - Next 5000 foot cliff for both Dem candidates. the Vote on Patraous.

    – Hmmmm. Wonder if Hill-Rod will find her suspenders and Dis-beef, or do a Clinton shuffle. And BO. Well he try to slide a quiet “yes” by the crowd. thereby risking sure exile from his own cult, or go with a no, and suffer the results this fall.

    – How embarrassing.

  14. Wow — one out of four Republicans in Pennsylvania is trying to stop John McCain from winning the presidential nomination he clinched three fucking months ago. We are so screwed.

  15. the Vote on Patraous.

    not to be an ass, BBH, but I think it’s spelled “Betrayus”, or so I heard whilst listening to NPR with teh NYT in one hand and my latte en el otro.

    although, maybe it was the interference: had 10 000 Maniacs playing in the background… or was that Paul Simon’s wife? whatever.

  16. “And don’t be surprised if there is a revolution at the Republican Convention when the delegates abandon grandpa for Ron Paul.”

    Also, don’t be surprised if the world’s oceans turn into French Onion dip next Wendesday at 11 AM. As long as we’re being stupid.

    New Great Depression. GET. A. GRIP.

    Back to the topic: The county-by-county results in PA exhibited a BIG problem for Obama. Hillary KILLED him out in the sticks. Not 55-45, 60-40, or 65-35, but approaching 80-20 in some places. If Obama wins the nomination (I’m still not convinced), then he’ll have to really trounce maverick in traditional Democratic locales and Maverick is, for the moment, making some of those much closer than Dubya did.

    That’s where the McGovern parallels really kick in. If McCain can flip even a couple of places (say Michigan and Minnesota), the general election is not even close.

  17. “one out of four Republicans in Pennsylvania is trying to stop John McCain from winning the presidential nomination”

    Them as called into talk radio, who voted for Paul or Huckster, said that they were sending McCain the message to not get too cocky.

    I’m down with that.

  18. wishbone !!!!! How are you?

  19. - Speaking of cocky, now starts the cross party meddling. The North Caroline Republican party attack Ad on Obama, citing his as “too extreme”, and showing cuts from the Wright videos.

    – Some will see this as an attempt to boost Hill-Rod because the Reps would rather run against her. I disagree. I think they want to keep the Dem rumble going as long as possible, so a boost for the Beast would help things along.

    – Jane Hall thinks the Ads are being written by Hillery’s campaign and fed to the RNC. Whoa.

  20. I am well, JD. Currently recreating stateside.

  21. boost Hill-Rod because the Reps would rather run against her. I disagree.

    I do not. I think the only way she gets back into the White House is if a tornado drops it on her.

    Which, that may not be what the NC Republican Party is thinking, but…

  22. wishbone – If chance takes you through battleground Indiana during your recreating, I would be honored to buy you a cold one, or ten. Hope your recreating stateside is all you could imagine. I wondered why there was a shortage of midget hookers in the Midwest.

  23. Yeah but this time the analysis won’t be “he was too hard core leftist, he was too radical” it will be “America is full of racists.”

  24. Next? And here I thought thought that Jim Webb was the current George McGovern.

  25. Wow — one out of four Republicans in Pennsylvania is trying to stop John McCain from winning the presidential nomination he clinched three fucking months ago.

    Clearly he didn’t put enough resources into the GOTV effort. Doomed, I say!

  26. Ardie, you realize Paul is even older than McCain, right. And his supporters are to put not too fine a point on it; nuts. Say this downturn, is worse than it looks; going on the gold standard would fix it. Maybe if we had as much gold as South Africa.

  27. The gold reserves held by the IMF of the top 38 depositors, added together would equal about 16% of what would be required to back the US economy. Our 8.1 tonnes on deposit represents about 4.5%.

  28. “Comment by Ardie on 4/23 @ 3:09 pm #

    Only 73% of Republicans voted for grandpa McCain in Pennsylvania. 27% abandoned him for Paul and Huckabee. This is the harbinger of things to come as we move into a new Great Depression. The more the economy tanks–the better for the Democratic Party. And don’t be surprised if there is a revolution at the Republican Convention when the delegates abandon grandpa for Ron Paul.”

    Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in a long time.

    Ron Paul?

    I don’t think so…

    Ross Perot has a better chance than this asshat.

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  31. Barack Obama is a very special person since he is the first black president of the United States of America. his ability as a president is also very good and his plans for economic recovery is a good one.

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