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West Virginia and The Map

Wednesday, May 14, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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ElectionProjection’s updated electoral college map shows Obama with a 10 vote lead over Mccain, but it also shows Obama winning Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania, not to mention Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota:

What Hillary’s blow-out, 41% win last night shows us, though, is that with Obama as the nominee, West Virginia is going to be deep red in November, and that suggests a very-real-if-difficult-to-detect-in-the-polls antipathy towards Obama.

Politico.com has a Ben Smith story that notes a Clinton supporter waving a bowling pin after last night’s big win, “a symbol of the cultural distance between Obama, who bowls poorly, and the state’s working-class white voters.”

But Clinton’s margin of victory is too huge to simply assign it to one demographic.

There’s obviously a “Bradley effect” at work, but that doesn’t account for the landslide either.

It seems as Obama has cemented his image of being from outside of the American political mainstream, and the attention paid to his “bitter” comments, Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers and Michelle Obama have all been contributing factors.

The vast majority of Americans would gladly vote for an African-American provided that his or her politics are mainstream.

But Obama’s aren’t, and as that recognition spreads, his numbers plummet among the vast number of voters who live in the middle and who follow politics only sporadically.

Which means Obama’s map is shrinking before our eyes while McCain’s is expanding. Suddenly the light blue states have to be considered the battlefield for the fall, and McCain has to be looking at a strategy and a running mate that puts even more pressure on Obama in the industrial midwest. Of course Romney puts Michigan in play, as well as Colorado where Romney did very well in the GOP caucuses, but Minnesota’s Governor Tim Pawlenty also brings strengths in the upper midwest. Either man as veep would expand McCain’s map in key areas. By contrast, it is difficult to imagine an Obama veep who can take a red-leaning state and put it in play. Fred Barnes wrote that Obama needs to play defense in the must-win state of Pennsylvania with a pick of Ed Rendell, but of course Rendell’s got huge negatives, as does almost every other Obama potential pick. The key point is that Obama is playing defense –the huge momentum of early spring is gone, and it isn’t coming back. Dismiss West Virginia and Kentucky as they will, but Team Obama knows the glow is gone and the rapidly freezing ice over his reputation as hard left will be difficult to break after the primaries are over.

Lots of white knuckles among GOP congressmen considering another special election loss, but the silver lining last night is that the more voters focus on Obama and the hard left agenda he represents and would work with Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid to enact, the more they reject him and his policies. If Hillary was the nominee –Bill carried West Virginia in ’92 and ’96– the GOP would be staring down a very long barrel, but Howard Dean, the netroots and the MSM have managed to deliver a fractured party and a deeply flawed nominee, one whose past and whose policies could resurrect the fortunes of an old soldier promising tough talk, security and a second American century.

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