If the Louisiana presidential preference primary is any indicator of the fortunes of Pres. Barack Obama this fall, a second glance tells he’s in trouble.
The results can show how much enthusiasm exists for an Obama reelection relative to a Republican challenger, when investigating turnout, but also keeping in mind that this is an incumbent vs. challenger contest. If, all things equal, there appears a lack of enthusiasm for Obama relative to a GOP challenger in Louisiana, replicated across the county, this would be problematic for Democrats.
At first glance, one might not see in the state’s results anything of particular alarm for Obama. Democrat turnout was less than half of that of the GOP’s, with fewer votes cast, but that’s unremarkable given the dynamics. There’s an incumbent running for the Democrats, and a spirited contest not yet resolved going on for the Republicans. True, this meant more cast votes in the GOP version, and, adjusted for overall registrations in the state, turnout in the 2004 Republican primary with incumbent George W. Bush was about equivalent with Democrat turnout then, signaling perhaps some concern. But, then again, one can point to 1996 with Democrat incumbent Bill Clinton on the ballot where Democrat participants, adjusted for overall registrations, trailed Republicans in turnout. Not only did Clinton win the state, which Obama won’t, but he did win nationally as well.
However, another look likely demonstrates potentially worrisome trends. One could argue the incumbency factor caused fewer Democrats than Republicans to participate, but Obama only got about three-quarters of the total votes cast. That’s not much less proportionally than Clinton’s 81 percent, but Clinton did get more raw votes, which was the difference in the slightly higher total of raw votes cast total. Still, proportionally speaking, out of all Democrats the proportion cast for both Obama and for all Democrats was higher than in 1996. Thus, one could complete a picture of minimal concern by arguing dissenting Democrats would return to the Obama fold in November, with the level of support indicating that if it was good enough in 1996, it should also suffice in 2012. It would not be enough to win Louisiana, but the same dynamic across the country means an enthusiasm gap damaging to reeleciton chances would not be present.
But the nature of Obama’s pygmy opponents’ campaign in fact suggests trouble does lie ahead for Obama if the pattern persists nationwide. He ended up being unable to secure a majority in 12 parishes, and outright lost three (Cameron, Grant, LaSalle) of them to a guy named John Wolfe. Yes, these only amounted to about 5 percent of the total votes cast, with the three parishes lost by Obama contributing all of 888 votes. Still, results suggest that with other respectable showings by Wolfe – he amassed at least 15 percent of the vote, the cutoff for awarding delegates in each of the present U.S. House districts by the party, in 39 parishes – that he will win delegates to the national convention, in a symbolic blow to the Obama candidacy.
Further, Wolfe is a self-described progressive who calls Obama a sellout, who racked up an impressive 0.4 percent of the New Hampshire primary vote, about one-fiftieth of the proportion he gained in Louisiana, and improved on his Missouri primary performance by about an order of magnitude. Thus, for the thesis that non-Obama voters in the state will tap the screen for him in November to hold true, we would have to believe there are a number of wild-eyed very liberal Democrats in places like Cameron, Grant, and LaSalle Parishes, convinced therefore perturbed that the very liberal Obama has leapt into bed with evil corporations and the war machine, but who are willing to set that aside for the general election. Yeah, sure.
The fact is, these Democrats wanted to vote for anybody not Obama, with Wolfe being the most known and convenient placeholder. And these protesters, comprising almost all of the votes not cast for Obama, will not be voting at all in the presidential contest, or, worse, will be for a Republican. Write this large across the country, and Obama is every bit as endangered as his polling numbers and the historical antecedents regarding economic numbers suggest.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 09:40