Obama is a poor general election candidate, he has always been a poor general election candidate, and his imploding campaign is demonstrating exactly why he is weak in the general, even if Hillary were to stop her campaign cold right now.
The Democratic constituencies he is weak with have nothing to do with Hillary, such as working class voters (and that is more than just "white" people) who don't like his position on trade and health care. His response to their doubt is to call them racist. These are constituencies who could very well go McCain in the general. He has no idea how to appeal to these voters and has no track record of note to use to back up claims that he will serve their interests. He's sort of generic liberal guy on those counts, not offering even as much as Kerry did last time. Politico talks about the Florida vote being "Jewish" and not liking Obama's association with anti-Israel speakers, but that state is also full of Democrats who overwhelmingly voted for HRC and are having their votes deliberately voided to ensure Obama's nomination. My very Catholic mother-in-law and all of her senior female friends in Florida will not vote for Obama in November in a way that they probably would have voted for Edwards or Biden. His claims to being able to win Western states dissolves when his weakness with Hispanic voters is examined.
Hillary's problematic Democratic constituencies are problematic for different reasons. With AA voters, she had enjoyed enormous support until two things happened: first, Obama won Iowa and showed himself to be a viable candidate and, second, the Obama campaign launched their no-holds barred filth-fest to portray Hillary as racist and an enemy of the AA community, including threatening black party leaders who protested this portrayal. Her problems with this constituency are because of Obama, and are much more due to the former cause than the latter. She has a long public record of her work on behalf of the AA community and, even after the trashing some people within it have heaped on her, she will continue to do so. That's just the kind of person she is. A certain segment of the liberal elite, wonderfully embodied by UC Berkeley Economics professor Brad Delong and his clueless arrogance, hate her with a passion that is simply irrational and might vote Nader if their Precious isn't handed the nomination. After that, she will have to fight hard for the Reagan Democrat constituency, who will prefer her economic acumen to McCain's "more of the same," but who can be swayed by national security arguments. In the exit polling done in 2004, it was John Kerry's perceived weakness on security that was the deciding factor in key coutines in Ohio - exactly those counties Hillary dominated in the primary.
Furthermore, it's not just the constituencies, but the distribution of those voters on the Electoral College map. Let's go to my favorite electoral map site, 270 to Win, and look at recent electoral match up maps:
Hillary vs. McCain: She starts out ahead of him in electoral votes, 202 to 198. Pretty evenly matched, with only 4 electoral votes between them. Of the states that are not in McCain's column, how can Hillary pick up 68 electoral votes from swing states to make the magic 270?
- CT - 7 (202+7=209)
- NJ - 15 (209+15=224)
- DE - 3 (224 +3=227)
- HI - 4 (227+4=231)
- FL - 27 (231+27=258)
- WV - 5 (258+5=263)
- and either WA or MN or MO or WI or MI or VA
The first four states should go to any Democratic nominee. Hillary can win back WV if she is getting Pennsylvania and Ohio, and she's consistently winning Florida. Michigan is likely for her because of pushing to count their vote in the primary, Washington is a traditionally blue state, Missouri is a long shot, and Minnesota and Wisconsin are fully competitive. Virginia may say swing, but I doubt its competitive. Winning two of the final group and losing WV would still work. Winning Nevada is a possibility, but wouldn't be enough on its own to clinch the Electoral College.
On McCain's side, he has to get 72 electoral votes to win. That means even winning Virginia and Florida are not enough to put him over the top. He would have to win three of the following: WA, MN, MO, WI, MI, NV, WV. With Nevada or West Virginia as the third, that means he must win MI and either WA or MO, to reach 270. Also, if the three are MN, WI and either MO or WA, he is one vote short, and thus must win at least Nevada or West Virginia as well. Basically, if McCain has lost OH and PA, he must win MI, FL and VA to have a chance. If Hillary takes Florida out of play, McCain is highly unlikely to win.Obama vs. McCain: Obama starts 28 points bakc, 180 vs. 208, and McCain is ahead of where he started with Hillary. More states are swing states because Obama is not clearly leading in them, thus momentum is leaning towards McCain. Of the states that are not in McCain's column, how can Obama pick up 90 electoral votes from swing states to make the magic 270?
- PA - 21 (180+21=201)
- OH - 20 (201+20=221)
- MI- 17 (221+17=238)
- NJ - 15(238_15=253)
- and then at least two of the following - MN, WI, VA, CO, IA, but the two cannot be CO and IA as they do not total 17.
See a problem here? Yeah, he tanked in Ohio and New Jersey, has dissed Michigan by refusing to let them revote even when he might have won it, and is trailing badly in Pennsylvania. Minnesota and Wisconsin are probably easier for him to win than they are for Hillary, though they are swing states for her as well, and it is questionable whether he could pull out Virginia or Colorado. He simply isn't competitive in any border state - KY, TN, MO, AR - or in Florida. If he loses Ohio and Pennsylvania, he basically has to take evey other swing state to make up for their electoral deficit, whereas if McCain picks up just OH and PA, he only needs 21 more votes to clinch the election, and that means just Virginia and South Carolina. Not a good bet.
These are projections, of course, but they have some basis in the demographic makeup of the states and reference the historical voting patterns of those states.And all of this, the Politico article and the latest polls, were done before Obama's recent blather about bitter lower-class voters.
Obama's ability to win the Democratic nomination itself presupposes that Florida and Michigan are eliminated from the delegate count and that he wins big in all the remaining primaries and that the lion's share of the super delegates break his way. Barring votes from Michigan and Florida will cripple the Democartic party in those states in November. It does not look likely that he will win big in the upcoming primaries. Super delegates, according to the Politico report, are beginning to question the wisdom of their initial pledge.
Dr. Dean, what are you wishing for now?