Saturday, April 26, 2008

GOP Targets Obama on General Election Liabilities

Andrew Sullivan's probably going to be calling foul from here until November, but it sure looks like Barack Obama's paving the way toward a very competitive GOP general election campaign.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, Republicans have targeting Obama in a series of tough campaign spots around the country, and some local Democrats are having the audacity to back away from the radioactive Illinois Senator:

As they promote their candidates and try to pave the way for GOP victories this year, Republicans have begun making their case to voters in advertisements featuring a new star: Barack Obama.

In North Carolina, a TV ad shows Obama's former pastor making racially charged comments. An Internet ad attacks a Pennsylvania congressman for endorsing Obama's presidential bid. A New Mexico radio ad says Obama disrespects "the American way of life."

In Louisiana, a TV ad attacking Obama's healthcare agenda as "radical" proved so threatening that the House candidate it targeted, Democrat Don Cazayoux, distanced himself from Obama on Thursday, issuing a stern statement saying that he "has not endorsed any national politician."

The flurry of attacks underscores how Republicans and their allies are sensing opportunity in the increasingly battered image of Obama, whom many Democrats have viewed as their best hope for appealing across ideological lines and helping their party win in conservative areas.
The New York Times also addresses Obama's liabilities, which are making things look good for Republicans up and down the ticket nationwide:

Senator Barack Obama is starring in a growing number of campaign commercials, but the latest batch is being underwritten by Republicans.

In a sign that the racial, class and values issues simmering in the presidential campaign could spread into the larger political arena, Republican groups are turning recent bumps in Mr. Obama’s road — notably his comment that small-town Americans “cling” to guns and religion out of bitterness and a fiery speech by his former minister in which he condemned the United States — into attacks against Democrats down the ticket.

“The public, week by week, is becoming more familiar with his big-government, far-left vision for America,” said Ed Patru, a spokesman for Freedom’s Watch, an advocacy organization that is portraying Mr. Obama as ultraliberal in an advertisement running in Louisiana before a special election for a House seat.

Republicans say the new focus on Mr. Obama reflects their view that he remains the more likely Democratic presidential nominee since he continues to lead Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in convention delegates. It also shows that Republicans, who have for months characterized Mrs. Clinton as the contender who would most energize Republican voters, now see vulnerabilities in Mr. Obama that could be liabilities for other Democrats on the ballot.

“There were times when Republicans reacted with just horror that he would lead the ticket,” said Stuart Rothenberg, a nonpartisan political analyst. “Now there is not the sense of him being invulnerable, the magic bullet. I think there has been a major change.”

The growing Republican emphasis on Mr. Obama could also help Mrs. Clinton plead her case that she is more electable, bolstering her argument to superdelegates that Republicans are poised to pounce on her relatively untested opponent. Her advisers have been frustrated that some top Democrats rate Mrs. Clinton a greater liability for the party’s candidates in conservative parts of the country — a view still held by some strategists — even though she has shown a capacity to withstand Republican attacks.

At the same time, some Democrats privately said the new Republican push could be a backdoor effort to buoy Mrs. Clinton, the candidate Republicans initially saw as the Democrat who would most rally Republicans and spur fund-raising. It has not been lost on Republican strategists that they can give pause to superdelegates leaning toward endorsing Mr. Obama.

The Republican House and Senate campaign organizations have seized on the remark on bitter voters in particular, encouraging their candidates to make the most of it. Advertisements have been placed on the Internet, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee assembled videos for targeted states that replay Mr. Obama’s comments as somber music builds. “Mary Landrieu. A Democratic superdelegate,” says the video, referring to the Louisiana senator, who is seeking re-election this year. “Will she cast her vote for Obama?”

This is almost getting to be like picking the best kitty from the litter!

Meanwhile, Clinton's pull up even in public opinion, and she's polling better a general election matchups against John McCain,
via Gallup:

The Democratic nomination race is now tied, with Barack Obama favored by 48% of national Democratic voters and Hillary Clinton by 47%.

The latest results, based on
Gallup Poll Daily tracking from April 22-24, include two days of interviews conducted entirely after Tuesday's Pennsylvania Democratic primary. Support for Clinton is significantly higher in these post-primary interviews than it was just prior to her Pennsylvania victory, clearly suggesting that Clinton's win there is the catalyst for her increased national support.

Obama's lead dwindled steadily all week, falling from a high of 10 percentage points in interviewing conducted in the three days just prior to the Pennsylvania primary. However, the percentage of Democrats supporting Obama has changed little (declining from 50% in April 19-21 polling to 48% today). Most of Clinton's increased support (from 40% to 47%) has come from previously undecided voters. (To view the complete trend since Jan. 3, 2008,
click here.)...

Clinton fares slightly better than Obama against John McCain in hypothetical matchups for the November election. Although both races are too close to call given the poll's margin of error, Clinton is running two points ahead of McCain, 47% to 45%, while Obama is running one point behind, 45% to 46%.
We still have over six months of campaigning before the general election. If some Democrats are running away from Obama now, just give it a little time.

Reverend Wright's making a comeback (here and here), and there's a whole lot of working class voting constituencies that Obama's yet to face.

Now that's bitter!