- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2012

President Obama isn’t doing so well in some of his party primaries where a surprisingly large number of Democrats are giving him the thumbs down.

The national news media are paying little attention to the Democrats’ presidential primaries because Mr. Obama is assured of his nomination. But the large size of the anti-Obama vote - exposing deep unrest in his party’s political base - has shaken his campaign’s high command.

The latest explosions erupted Tuesday in the Kentucky and Arkansas primaries, which, of course, Mr. Obama won easily. But a stunning 42 percent of Kentucky Democrats voted for “uncommitted” on their ballots.

In yellow dog Democrat Arkansas, 42 percent voted for a little-known Tennessee lawyer, John Wolfe, over the president of the United States.


Two weeks ago in the West Virginia primary, Keith Judd, a convicted felon and now Texas prison inmate, got 41 percent of the vote.

Some smarty-pants political pundits who think they know everything say some of this is about race and that these states are firmly in the GOP column anyway.

“You will forgive me, I hope, a lack of excitement about the ‘story’ of the president’s weakness in these two states [i.e. Arkansas and Kentucky] and in other border states with large fossil-fuel energy industries and relatively few African-Americans, since I’ve been reading about it since the 2008 primaries,” Democratic strategist Ed Kilgore says in Wednesday’s Washington Monthly Political Animal blog.

But others think the Democrats’ sizable anti-Obama vote in the party primaries has much deeper implications for the election.

Such strong antipathy toward Mr. Obama at this end point in his trouble-plagued presidency is “an indicator of not-insignificant pockets of unrest within his party,” The Washington Post’s campaign trackers Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake write.

Racial factors “may be less of a problem for Obama than the broader cultural disconnect that many of these voters feel with the Democratic Party.” They also quote Democrats who point to growing grievances that many in their party have over the political direction Mr. Obama is taking the country.

“The most significant factor is the perception/reality the Obama administration has leaned toward the ultra-left,” says former Rep. Charles Stenholm, Texas Democrat.

That’s certainly true in the coal-rich Appalachian states where Mr. Obama’s zeal for eliminating coal as one of the fuels that run our country has triggered a political backlash against him and the Environmental Protection Agency, which is carrying out his anti-coal agenda.

These are states with large populations of low-income, blue-collar, “working class” Americans who have been hit hardest by Mr. Obama’s economic policies, and they do not like the national Democratic Party’s sharp lurch to the left on economic and cultural policies.

“In states like West Virginia and Oklahoma, it’s just that voters are down on national Democrats generally. I don’t believe it is due to race,” says former Rep. Martin Frost, Texas Democrat.

In the Democratic nominating process, data show that the president has been averaging 84.6 percent of the vote in states where voters are presented with an alternative to Mr. Obama (either for another candidate, a write-in line or simply “uncommitted”).

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