Monday, July 14, 2008

Democratic House Candidates Running Away From Obama

The Wall Street Journal reports that a good number of Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives are distancing themselves from Barack Obama's presidential bid. Democrats in conservative districts fear "reverse coattails" in the event of tying their own electoral fortunes to the Democratic nominee's:

Competitive House Seats

Barack Obama could have long coattails this fall. That doesn't mean that every Democrat is going to want to grab on to them.

The Illinois senator is likely to spur voter turnout among African-Americans and college students in some districts where Democrats hope to pick up House seats now held by Republicans or to fend off Republican challenges. But other Democrats facing tough re-election campaigns could see Sen. Obama's politics and his weakness among working-class whites as a liability.

"Some of these Democrats are trying to walk a fine line" between courting black voters and holding on to whites, said Nathan Gonzales of the Rothenberg Report, a nonpartisan political handicapper. Democratic candidates may embrace, ignore or run away from Sen. Obama, or perhaps some of each, he added.

Meanwhile, vulnerable Republicans, many of whom are in closely divided or Democratic-leaning districts, could see John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, as an asset because of his appeal to independents. If the Arizona senator runs a competitive presidential race, he "could provide air cover for our candidates" in what could otherwise be a difficult year for Republicans, said Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who heads the Republicans' House re-election campaign.
The article goes on to indicate that the Democrats have the best congressional electoral environment in years, but it sure is telling that quite a few Democratic office-seekers see Obama as radioactive.

For more information, see
Congressional Quarterly's list of open seats this year.