Fear (And Loathing) Of Commitment

Breaking news apparently:  Registered Democrats who voted against Barack Obama in 2008 in blood-red southern states are A) still registered Democrats, B) still in blood-red states, and C) still voting against the guy.

Four in ten Democratic voters chose someone other than President Obama on Tuesday in primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.

In Arkansas, John Wolfe — a perennial, long-shot candidate — took 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Obama came in just under 60 percent. The Associated Press did not call the race for Obama until close to midnight.

And in Kentucky, 42 percent of Democrats chose “uncommitted” rather than cast a vote for the incumbent president. Obama took 58 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

With turnout low, Obama did get more total votes than presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won his primary with almost 67 percent of the vote. Obama had more than 118,600 votes to about 117,100 for Romney.

Obama’s nomination for a second term by the Democratic Party has never been in danger. But the large number of defections is bad optics for Obama, highlighting widespread discontent with his administration among Democrats who come from conservative states.

Now, here’s the problem:  Some 80,000 plus voters here in Kentucky yesterday voted for “uncommitted” rather than the President.  You can make all the excuses about policy, about the economy, about whatever you want, but the county map shows that the President lost 66 of 120 counties, and he lost every single one of the rural counties in the east (south and east of Wolfe County) and all but McCracken County in the rural west, and outside of Boone, Kenton and Campbell he lost all the northern ones outside the Cincy suburbs.

Folks, I’ve lived here.  There’s a reason why a state of majority registered Democratic voters gave John McCain the win here by 15 points in 2008.  Hillary Clinton won here by thirty-five points four years ago.  The headline really should read “Barack Obama becomes first African-American to win something resembling a statewide race in Kentucky”.  Period.  It’s the truth. It hasn’t happened before, not even at the primary level.  Hell, last night was progress.  The 57% he got last night was a vast improvement compared to the 30% he got in 2008, people.  It was historic.

Here’s a hint as to why:  it wasn’t the “Obama administration policies” in 2008 any more than it was here in 2012.  Mitt Romney got about the same number of votes that the President did in his primary, and Dems outnumber Republicans here about 60-40%.  Romney will probably win here by 20 points, easy.  I know it’s bad here for Dems in the Bluegrass State, but this is pretty awful.  Under no illusions that Obama had a chance, but damn, people.  Pay attention, will you?  It’s freakin’ KentuckyBooMan points out the obvious (politely):

There’s no reason to believe that a white presidential candidate wouldn’t immediately compete for the electoral votes of these states. Arkansas and West Virginia are both traditionally Democratic states, while Kentucky is more of a swing-state. What last night’s results show is that the president’s problems in Appalachia stem less from any Republican strength than from his weakness there among white Democrats. Since it is unlikely that the next Democratic presidential contender will be black, it’s also unlikely that the Republicans can rely on these Appalachian states to remain solidly in their corner.

Oh, and in KY-4 it will indeed be Bill Adkins taking on Thomas Massie.  Trivia:  Massie campaign HQ is in the center of Florence, next to the fire station and the big new shiny Scientology church.  Heh.

Only George Tierney, Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina can possibly read these political tea leaves, so I leave it in his capable hands.

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83 replies
  1. 1
    Kay says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    To be clear, I think (here, anyway) “Reagan Democrat” is a sort of code. It’s more polite than “white, older Democrats”, which is what they’re saying. I have a lot of trouble with this, among Democrats, because I want them to be clear. If the price of wooing this elusive group is ignoring the group of people who actually vote for Democrats, I think that’s nuts. You’re defining “Democrat” according to the terms of people who don’t vote for Democrats.
    Democrats exist. They’re not a theory. “Democrats” means the people who are, right now, Democrats. If we want to chase these other people, that’s fine and dandy, but it seems insane to make them the standard. I think one should probably define “their” electorate” by the people who make it up. Go from there. But start there.

  2. 2
    Cacti says:

    As go Kentucky and Arkansas, so goes…well, nothing really.

  3. 3
    Keith says:

    It’s Florence Y’All!

    the water tank tells us so

  4. 4

    You know what the results of a primary election tells us about the results of the upcoming general election?

    Absolutly nothing! Anyone who analizes the primary results as predictive of the general is a foolio.

  5. 5
    Steve says:

    I suppose it’s possible that Hillary Clinton is a stronger Presidential candidate than Uncommitted. Although Uncommitted probably wouldn’t have trusted Mark Penn.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I recall seeing a county-by-county electoral map of the 2008 Presidential election, and compared it with the 2004 election.

    Some counties were more strongly for McCain in 2008 than they were for the deserting coward in 2004.

    They were concentrated in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

    In the hilly areas.

    Imagine that.

  7. 7
    Butch says:

    “Optics” has become one of those fingernails on the blackboard words for me…..

  8. 8
    ksmiami says:

    And yet… these areas are poor, elect Rand Paul to governmental positions, dumb and addicted to meth. Sorry, but my sympathy for them is well – missing. It’s the same poor yeoman fight from the 1800s. Rather than see commonalities, and promote a healthier, wealthier country, they’d rather be able to proclaim superiority over Blah people. Effing pathetic – they are no better than poor Romanians making fun of gypsies. I AM SICK OF THEM

  9. 9

    @The Other Bob:
    That’s a shame, because the primary results so far show the GOP as being way less motivated than the Democrats. I actually wanted that part.

    @Butch:
    I wasn’t very politically tuned in before the Obama election (thanks, George ‘Pooch Screwer’ Bush!) but since then I’ve been watching ‘optics’ become a fancy word for ‘The facts don’t support me, but I can always whine that I don’t like how this looks’.

  10. 10
    Napoleon says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    And lined up with where the Scotch-Irish had settled.

    On a related matter I am just about done with this book and it is very good. It is on how our country really is 11 seperate nations. Notice how the map you mention also lines up with what he calls the nation of Greater Appalachia

    http://www.amazon.com/American.....0670022969

    http://www.rollingstone.com/po.....s-20111006

  11. 11
    Mike E says:

    Optics, or, Cokies, as I like to call them. It’s not how you feel but how you look…and you look marvelous!

  12. 12
    Angela says:

    Wow, the comments on that linked article are ridiculous. Why oh why do I wade into them?

  13. 13
    feebog says:

    If you follow the series “Justify”, you will know exactly what this is all about.

  14. 14
    jibeaux says:

    @feebog: Justified, friend.

    Love that show. Love Timothy Olyphant. Do not want to live anywhere near those people.

  15. 15
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    The only AA’s that Kentucky and Arkansas residents love, play ball for the Wildcats and the Razorbacks, the rest are untermenchen. Sorry as a former Ohio resident when I see Kentucky outside of Louisville, I think of Justified, one large state of Boyd Crowders and the Bennett clan.

  16. 16

    Sad to see my state of growing up in the bluegrass, go to the tea tard dogs.

    But Not my current state of growing up, New Mexico ain’t even gonna be a swing state for Obama, it is solid blue from the git go. Life goes on.

  17. 17
    funluvn says:

    Obama is black!?!?

    Srsly?

  18. 18
    rlrr says:

    @funluvn:

    According to Rush Limbaugh, Obama isn’t really black. Obama’s father is from the Arab part of Kenya, not the black part.

  19. 19
    funluvn says:

    @rlrr:

    Whew! I was gettin’ worried that those folks in the southern states might get chippy over that one. Kenyan Arab’s are cool…

  20. 20
    Sally Rakowski says:

    If Kentuckians are so racist, why do they go crazy for their one and done kids on their basketball team at UK?

    Makes no sense.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @rlrr:

    Well, the big thing is, Obama’s father’s ancestors never worked for Limbaugh’s ancestors, which means they’ve never been domesticated. They’re feral, therefore, more dangerous.

  22. 22
    NotMax says:

    About Massie’s massive funding ($500,000+) by a 21-year-old Texas college student’s PAC:

    Tuesday’s Winners: Rand Paul, 21-Year-Old Millionaires

  23. 23
    yopd1 says:

    This includes my mother-in-law in Texas who swears up and down she’s not racist (she worked in inner city schools).

  24. 24
    jibeaux says:

    @Sally Rakowski: Well, black folks are ok if they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. That does not include prezninting.

  25. 25
    Tom Q says:

    I’m glad people are referencing that anomaly in the ’08 election. The electorate as a whole swung 10 points in the Democratic direction — politically, an earthquake. Yet that one contiguous region went significantly in the other direction. This is VERY rare, and, while it may to a small degree reflect trends that have been in motion for a decade or two, it was clearly put on steroids by the presence of a black candidate on the ballot. It’s just happenstance that we’ve had three (meaningless) primaries from that region in the past few weeks, but it’s creatied an ersatz talking point for a bored media.

    One of the great things about Obama being elected so overwhelmingly was it temporarily shut up the “Dems can only win by nominating a DLC Southerner” narrative, but the Carvilles/Stenholms of the world (and the pundit class) still deep down believe it. If (as I expect) Obama is convincingly re-elected, we might finally truly shift the “Republicans are the default party” assumption.

    But it won’t happen in the Appalachian Valley or the South. They’re going to be dissenters from any Democratic win — as they were, in opposite fashion, during the long GOP dominance after the Civil War.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    HRA says:

    OT- I apologize for it and really have to share.

    http://youtu.be/Fu4-6o44d6M

  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
    Amir Khalid says:

    @rlrr:
    If he ever finds out that Arabs (i.e. native speakers of Arabic) come in every color from Mediterranean white to sub-Saharan black, will Rush Limbaugh’s head asplode?

  32. 32
    HRA says:

    OT I apologize and must share.

    http://youtu.be/Fu4-6o44d6M

  33. 33
  34. 34
    Amir Khalid says:

    @rlrr:
    If he ever finds out that Arabs (i.e. native speakers of Arabic) come in every color from Mediterranean white to sub-Saharan black, will Rush Limbaugh’s head asplode?

  35. 35

    @HRA:

    My point. You’re serve.

  36. 36
    HRA says:

    That Thomas Wolfe Jr. running in Kentucky is a perennial candidate in a large number of states and always a loser. Check him out in Wikipedia.

    OT and having trouble getting this to go anywhere

    http://youtu.be/Fu4-6o44d6M

  37. 37
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Tom Q:

    If (as I expect) Obama is convincingly re-elected, we might finally truly shift the “Republicans are the default party” assumption.

    __
    I think it will take more than that to shift the narrative. If the Dems take back the House this year, hold it thru the 2014 midterms, and Obama’s successor wins the WH in 2016 then the Village might begin to move off of their default position that the GOP is the legitimate party of government and Dems in office are a fluke. But not before a entire new cohort of young reporters have come up thru the ranks knowing nothing but Democrats in power, because this is a generational issue. The old farts in the media will never change their tune. Progress will be made one obituary at a time.

  38. 38
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Tom Q:

    If (as I expect) Obama is convincingly re-elected, we might finally truly shift the “Republicans are the default party” assumption.

    __
    I think it will take more than that to shift the narrative. If the Dems take back the House this year, hold it thru the 2014 midterms, and Obama’s successor wins the WH in 2016 then the Village might begin to move off of their default position that the GOP is the legitimate party of government and Dems in office are a fluke. But not before a entire new cohort of young reporters have come up thru the ranks knowing nothing but Democrats in power, because this is a generational issue. The old farts in the media will never change their tune. Progress will be made one obituary at a time.

  39. 39
    Legalize says:

    @Sally Rakowski:
    Seriously? You don’t see the difference between rooting for your boys against the other boys, and voting for president?

  40. 40
    rlrr says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Limbaugh and is ilk can’t even comprehend that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs….

  41. 41
    Mike E says:

    @Tom Q: AKA Dixiecrats

  42. 42
    Trakker says:

    The press a) has to report news even when there is none, and b) is is obligated to make sure every election is a nailbiter. The bigger Obama’s lead in the polls, the more the news articles will insist he’s struggling.

  43. 43
    Origuy says:

    @Napoleon: I’ll have to check out that book when I’m done with Albion’s Seed, which has a similar theme. The author divides the English-speaking immigrants before the Revolution into four groups: the Puritans, who came mostly from East Anglia; the Cavaliers, who came from south and west England; the Quakers, who came from London and the Midlands; and the Scotch-Irish, who came from the north of England, Scottish Borders, and Ulster. Each had different folkways: speech, food, religion, even games.

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    @Sally Rakowski:

    If Kentuckians are so racist, why do they go crazy for their one and done kids on their basketball team at UK?

    Otherwise racist whites have always been willing to hoot and holler for negroes who can keep them entertained…as long as the know their place.

    When they pull a Muhammad Ali and get all “no Vietcong ever called me nigger” uppity, the backlash is swift and vicious.

  45. 45
    Cacti says:

    @rlrr:

    Limbaugh and is ilk can’t even comprehend that not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are Arabs….

    They seem to confuse it with the idea of ethnic Jewish vs. religious Jewish.

  46. 46
    eemom says:

    Y’all just keep these posts coming where you tag along behind Chris Cilizza picking up the horseshit du jour on the race track.

    Does wonders for the credibility of the blog. I’ll keep it in mind next time Cole tells me to fork over my hard earned money for “coverage” of NN.

  47. 47
    danimal says:

    There’s a racial component to Obama’s vote totals in Appalachia? Wow, the Dems better think twice before putting him on the ballot. A black man is unelectable in this country. Once good, solid white people are in the voting booth and don’t have to conform to social pressures, they’ll vote for McCain RMoney. Bradley effect, also, too.

    /crank, 08 vintage

  48. 48
    aimai says:

    @Origuy:
    Albion’s Seed is one of my favorite books of all time. Just eye opening. I have seen the traces of the argument in every aspect of politics since I read it last year.

    aimai

  49. 49
    Tonybrown74 says:

    People talk about the optics because they are too lazy to do the research. It’s no different that talking about shoulders that you can land a Boeing 737 [sic] on, or landing on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit with bunched up crotch.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Sally Rakowski:

    It’s a damn good thing that idiocy is not a capital crime in this country, because you’d be in front of a death panel faster than you can say Captain Jack Sparrow.

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    OT: I am in line to vote in the WI Recall. There are 15 people ahead of me and ten behind. I understand that it has been busy since in-person absentee became available on Monday.

  52. 52
    GregB says:

    I still remember the 2008 footage of some very poor and sad looking woman from the Appalachians saying in a thick drawl:

    We’ve had enuff of the Hooo-sain!

  53. 53
    catclub says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: “Progress will be made one obituary at a time”

    Just like science!

  54. 54
    shortstop says:

    @aimai: I found it explained so, so, so much.

  55. 55

    @Sally Rakowski: If Kentuckians are so racist, why do they go crazy for their one and done kids on their basketball team at UK?

    Do recall that UK was a latecomer on that note. The 1966 championship game, where Don Haskin’s all-black Texas Western defeated Adolph Rupp’s all-white Kentucky squad, is legendary.

  56. 56

    […] “Fear (and loathing) of Commitment” – Zandar (Balloon Juice) […]

  57. 57
    shortstop says:

    @GregB: Oh, dog, I remember that, too. As I recall, Jon Stewart showed the clip and then they cut to him raising a jug of moonshine and drinking deeply.

  58. 58

    @Cacti:
    This is UK basketball. I went to UK. If you win at basketball, you could be a lizard from Neptune who eats babies and uses the bible as toilet paper, and they would just print new bibles substituting your name for Jesus. The tribalism is thick as concrete, and basketball is their rallying cry.

  59. 59
    eemom says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I SO hope y’all are able to pull that one off — for the good of your state, of course, but I also think it is hugely important on a symbolic level.

    I am just astounded that the DNC doesn’t seem to appreciate that. Oh wait, I’m not.

  60. 60
    the fugitive uterus says:

    Only George Tierney, Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina can possibly read these political tea leaves, so I leave it in his capable hands.

    that’s going to be difficult now that George Tierney Jr of Greenville, SC has apparently taken hisself off the twitters

  61. 61
    Amir Khalid says:

    @the fugitive uterus:
    George Tierney, Jr. of Greenville, South Carolina is apparently back on the twitters after a brief lapse into common sense. Hadn’t you heard?

  62. 62
    the fugitive uterus says:

    oops, late to the game, did not realize that was no longer news! But George Tierney Jr of Greenville, SC was up last night tweeting once/twice every single minute, non-stop

  63. 63
    the fugitive uterus says:

    @Amir Khalid: yes, see my comment, i mean NO, i’m so confused!! – he was sure burning up the twitters last nite tho!

    going on about how he had a job or some shit

    i twittered: how do you have time to work when ur tweeting every 5 seconds?

    George Tierney Jr of Greenville SC: “do you know what i do?”

    ME: it’s pretty obvious what you do

  64. 64

    @Amir Khalid:
    You mean Romney supporter George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, SC? I’m glad to hear that. It’s only fair that the world know what Romney supporters like George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, SC think. I don’t like to descend into personal attacks, so I know I’d personally like to focus on why Mitt Romney is the candidate of choice for Mitt Romney suporter George Tierney Jr. of Greenville, SC.

  65. 65
    the fugitive uterus says:

    @aimai:

    Albion’s Seed is one of my favorite books of all time.

    Great book!

    i keep saying, we southerners are still royalists at heart

  66. 66
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Angela:

    Wow, the comments on that linked article are ridiculous. Why oh why do I wade into them?

    I have this same problem. I know the comments will be stupid, but I go there anyway. I see that the comments were in fact stupid. I then get mad at myself for looking at the stupid comments, knowing in advance that they would be stupid. Perhaps there is some kind of support group for this kind of affliction.

  67. 67
    jibeaux says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I am hoping for an upset. I could use some good news.

  68. 68
    someofparts says:

    I’m Southern and I’ve always been and remain more liberal than most of the folks on this site. I was so happy when Obama won I couldn’t go to work the next day because my eyes were red from tears of joy. Corny? Well, yeah. Never said I wasn’t.

    Reason I will never vote for that d***head again? Don Siegelman. Big O wants Don to get 20 years.
    What a pig.

  69. 69
    grandpa john says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Yep as long as they win, they are pale. That doesn’t mean that they would let their daughters marry one of them

  70. 70
    jibeaux says:

    @Jerzy Russian: I start, then I begin scheming ways to get antipsychotic medication into the water supply nationwide and try to figure out who I can give my money to to find a cure/vaccine for racism. Let me know if you’ve got any answers there.

  71. 71
    jibeaux says:

    @someofparts: No idea who Don Siegelman is, but I certainly can’t take issue with that impeccable logic. I assume Mitt Romney has taken all sides of the issue in his attempt to pander to the Single Issue Don Siegelmen Sentencing Fairness Voter, I mean, Voters?

  72. 72
    tybee says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: “Progress will be made one obituary at a time.”

    QFT

  73. 73
    the fugitive uterus says:

    @someofparts: live in SC, i had to go work next day, i think my boss was crying but not from happiness, my friend who works at my old firm said it was like a morgue at the office, so many broken hearts to be nursed

  74. 74
    shortstop says:

    @someofparts: You’ll love the justice department under Romney just as much as you loved it, despite your noted liberality, under Bush. Thanks again for your concern.

  75. 75
    jibeaux says:

    @the fugitive uterus: Ha, SC? “President Obama, listen up! If you don’t change your opinion on Don Siegelman’s sentencing, you will lose South Carolina by even more!”

  76. 76
    John B. says:

    Look at the comments on The Hill piece and you will see that Lederman and Goodin are just writing to their base: white racist right-wing morons without a clue. The Hill is going down it, quite rapidly.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @rlrr:

    Limbaugh and is ilk can’t even comprehend

    You could have just stopped right there and got to the bottom of Limbaugh.

  78. 78
    Knockabout says:

    Sure is nice to @eemom: Zandar’s got to be relevant, you know. Even by spewing out worthless shit like this.

  79. 79

    @Omnes Omnibus:
    Poll data doesn’t look good, probably because (IMO) that race wasn’t nationalized enough by the Dems.

    But good luck to the people of WI in any case.

  80. 80
    the fugitive uterus says:

    @someofparts: also, neither one of us wanted to go to work the next day but had to, we knew it was going to be bad and we’d damn well better keep our mouths shut

  81. 81
    JoyfulA says:

    @jibeaux: Google Don Siegelman if you don’t know the story. The story was even on 60 Minutes.

    But I can’t believe Obama wants to sentence an innocent man to 20 years.

  82. 82
    S. Holland says:

    @funluvn: I need proof he’s black

  83. 83
    mclaren says:

    Frankly, I don’t know why anyone pays attention the politics below the Mason-Dixon line. That entire region of the country should be roped off and turned into a theme park — call it “Medieval-Land.”

    Expecting people in the deep south to behave rationally is futile. These folks have never gotten over their defeat in the Civil War. Or, as they still call it, “the war of Northern Aggression” (even though those idiots attacked first by firing on Fort Sumter).

    Expecting those yo-hos to vote for Obama is about like expecting the KKK to invite Bil Cosby as their featured speaker.

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