Why can't Obama seal the deal in Dem primaries?

In what is becoming a post-West Virginia trend, Barack Obama is having trouble winning decisive primary victories against nominal (or nonexistent) opponents, barely pulling out wins in Kentucky and Arkansas last night. The Obama campaign is now in the rather embarrassing position of having to spend time and money competing in primaries that are generally a formality for an incumbent president.

So what gives?  Why can't Obama seal the deal?  Below I've outlined one potential reason, Obama's war on coal that is driving up electricity prices and costing jobs, many of which belong to Blue Dog union workers who may be turning out to the polls to tell Obama that he has gone too far.


Electoral implications of the Obama Administration’s War on Coal.

Will this be the 2012 election map?

If the Obama administration keeps up their War on Coal (literally: they consider coal more dangerous than terrorism), quite possibly. And it may be at least partially because of coal. 

The basic framework for this argument is this map:

…which shows the top sixteen coal-producing states in the USA. There’s a total of 182 Electoral Votes at stake, there – and in 2008 there were 180. Obama actually won coal-producing states in 2008, 100 to 80; and if no states flip in November, he’ll win them, 96 to 86. Except that… states are going to flip. Indiana’s already gone; and of the remaining six Obama states only New Mexico and Illinois are not considered toss-ups. The administration’s relentless hostility towards coal production and use may have already contributed to Democratic electoral disaster: since Obama took office the state governments and legislatures of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have all been taken over by Republicans; in Colorado we flipped the House of Representatives; and in New Mexico we captured the governorship. Heck, we even gained seats in the Illinois legislature, and came very close to winning the governorship.

The question is, is it fair to wonder whether coal will make things worse for the Democrats? I think so. In Virginia they’re worried about new EPA regulations on air quality. In Colorado people are noticing that President Obama and EPA chief Lisa Jackson are fighting the United Mine Workers. Pennsylvanian Republicans are already campaigning on the issue; so are Ohioan Republicans. All in all, this combination of stubborn refusal to budge from a radical Green agenda + an economy that can pretty specifically not support the inefficient luxury of a radical Green agenda = increased risk in a variety of Obama ’08 states.

Such a shame.


Last Night, Obama "Barely Ek[ed] Out Wins In Kentucky And Arkansas." "President Barack Obama continued to have trouble on Tuesday performing in Democratic primaries in traditionally conservative states, barely eking out wins in Kentucky and Arkansas." (Ginger Gibson, "Obama Struggles In Primaries,"Politico, 5/22/12)

Democrats In "Kentucky And Arkansas Are Taking A Swipe At President Barack Obama, Denying The Incumbent Nearly 4 Out Of Every 10 Votes Cast On The Democratic Side." "Some presidential primary voters in Kentucky and Arkansas are taking a swipe at President Barack Obama, denying the incumbent nearly 4 out of every 10 votes cast on the Democratic side." ("Primary Protest Votes Show Displeasure With Obama," The Associated Press, 5/22/12)

The Vote Was "A Bit Embarrassing For The Democratic Party And Highlights Obama's Political Weakness In Southern States." "The results in either state will not hamper Obama's effort to gain the party's nomination for a second term. Still, it's a bit embarrassing for the Democratic Party and highlights Obama's political weakness in Southern states." ("Primary Protest Votes Show Displeasure With Obama," The Associated Press, 5/22/12)

"In Kentucky's Closed Primary, About 42 Percent Of Registered Democrats Who Voted Selected 'Uncommitted.'" ("Primary Protest Votes Show Displeasure With Obama," The Associated Press, 5/22/12)

In Arkansas, "Where At Least He Was Running Against An Actual Human," Obama Lost 42 Percent Of The Vote To Lawyer And Occupy Wall Street Supporter John Wolfe. "Obama faced a similar threat in Arkansas, where at least he was running against an actual human. Lawyer and Occupy Wall Street supporter John Wolfe also came in around 42 percent, or right about where he was polling." (Dashiell Bennett, "'Uncommitted' Beats Obama In Half Of Kentucky," The Atlantic Wire, 5/23/12)

[via RNC Research]