Analyzing Obama’s Weak Spots – Part 3: Appalachia, South Central and the 2010 Midterms

This is the final part of three posts analyzing the congressional districts President Barack Obama underperformed in. It will focus on the movement in Appalachia and the South Central United States. The previous parts can be found starting here.

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The 2010 Midterms

Let’s take one last look at those districts in which Mr. Obama did worse than Senator John Kerry:

Map of Districts in Which Kerry Did Better Than Obama

One sees again, as clear as ever, the diagonal pattern of Republican movement in South Central America and the Appalachians.

These districts differ from the northeastern and Florida-based regions examined in the previous post. Unlike those congressional districts, the districts in South Central and Appalachia vote strongly Republican. Many of them were never much loyal to the Democrats in the first place; those that did vote Democratic generally stopped doing so after President Bill Clinton left the ticket.

Nevertheless, a number of these South Central and Appalachian districts are still represented by Democratic congressmen. This is readily apparent if one looks at a list of congressional districts in which Mr. Obama underperformed Mr. Kerry:

List of Congressional Districts

There are a surprisingly high number of Democrats on this list.  As one might expect, the Democratic-voting districts all elect Democrats (except, ironically, for the most Democratic one). Yet more than half of the Republican-voting districts on the list also are represented by Democrats.

That is actually an amazing statistic. These are places in Appalachia and South Central which are already voting Republican, which are fast becoming even more Republican, and which are electing Democratic congressmen.

For Democrats, congressional districts like these constitute ticking time bombs. They will be the first to fall in a Republican wave. There is literally no way the party can continue holding the majority of seats in Arkansas, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

And 2010 looks like a Republican wave year. Democratic-controlled districts in Appalachia and South Central are in deep trouble already:

Table of Troubled Districts

In congressional districts that vote Republican and are becoming Republican, only half the Democratic incumbents are running again. The open seats will likely elect Republican representatives this fall, even in the best forseeable Democratic environment.

One does not have to wait until November to test if this is true, however. On May 18th Pennsylvania will hold a special election for a new representative of the 12th congressional district, after incumbent John Murtha’s death:

Map of PA-12


Like many Democratic representatives in South Central and Appalachia, Mr. Murtha constituted a relic of an earlier time – when southwest Pennsylvania voted Democratic. His continued re-elections were due to his personal popularity and the power of incumbency, even as his district moved more and more Republican.

It will be a minor miracle if Democratic candidate Mark Critz wins. No Democratic candidate has ever done better than Mr. Obama since his election. Mr. Critz will have to do that, given that the president lost PA-12 (the only seat in the nation to support Kerry and the McCain). In a district with double-digit disapproval ratings of Mr. Obama, this constitutes an arduous task.

It is the same task that awaits more than a dozen Democrats in Appalachia and South Central America come November 2010.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

The Second Election Night Trend

By: Inoljt, http://thepolitikalblog.wordpress.com/

For Democrats, the election's most worrying result was not in Virginia, New Jersey, or Maine. It was the special election in CA-10.

At first glance, this might seem a bit puzzling. Democrats won that election, after all - and they won it by a comfortable 10% margin.

Yet, when compared to previous elections, this result is quite an underperformance. Barack Obama, for instance, won this congressional district by three times that margin. Since 2002, moreover, former Democratic congressman Ellen Tauscher had never polled below 65% of the vote.

Moreover, the election revealed more about the national mood than, say, Virginia or New Jersey. Those races were heavily dependent on local factors (e.g. the quality of the Deeds campaign, the unpopularity of Governor Jon Corzine). In CA-10, you had two low-recognition candidates and little publicity; it was closer to a generic ballot poll.

If  CA-10 could be characterized as a generic ballot poll, then Democrats should be extremely worried. In 2009, CA-10 went from a 30% Democratic victory to a 10% one: a 10-point shift to the right. Similar shifts were seen in New Jersey and Virginia; the electorate as a whole moved substantially to the right. The Democrats were very fortunate that Tuesday did not constitute a full-blown congressional election; they would have been crushed.

There is good news, however. Democratic weakness two days ago resulted more from an energized Republican base than a fundamental shift in the national mood. Republicans, motivated and unhappy, turned out; President Barack Obama's coalition did not. The president still attains approval ratings in the low 50s - hardly the sign of an unpopular incumbent.

The bad news is that I am not sure if Mr. Obama's coalition will turn out for the 2010 congressional elections. His voters have been curiously lethargic ever since his election; their low turn-out was how Senator Saxy Chambliss in Georgia went from a 3% general victory to a 14% run-off victory. Republicans, then, may do well next year.

In fact, I am not even sure Mr. Obama's coalition will re-emerge in 2012, when he goes up for re-election. The president, after all, ran on a campaign of hope, change, and idealism. The difficult compromises forced by governing have tainted this brand, and it will inevitably continue to be diluted over the next three years. Obama's 2008 coalition may go down as unique in American history, much like former President Jimmy Carter's coalition.

I hope it will not. There is that word again.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads