Obama goes from radiant to radioactive

After the 2008 election, Obama basked in a triumph of superlatives that would have made a Caesar returning for the barbarian wars blush, so thickly did the media slather on the paeans to semi-divine political status   In 2010, it is starting to look like Obama may be worse than deadly Caesium-137 to incumbent Democrats. 

James Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot writes that the Cook Political Report is now reporting that  Obama has become so unpopular in the hinterland that multiple term Democrat Congressmen like Ike Skelton (MO-04, first term began in 1977), John Spratt (SC-05, first term in 1983), Bart Gordon (TN-06, 1985), John Tanner (TN-08 since 1989) and Rick Boucher (VA-09 since 1983)  may be in for the political fight of their lives should they run for reelection and draw serious challengers. Cook describes Obama's status in these districts as "beyond radioactive."   What makes this assessment particularly stunning is that Botcher and Gordon drew no Republican challenger in 2008, Tanner's opponent was totally disavowed by the local Republican Party and Spratt and Skelton won landslide victories with well over 60% of the vote.  


For those not familiar with the districts, Botcher represents most of southwestern Virginia, a rural area that is culturally as distant from Fairfax County and the other affluent suburbs of Washington, DC as the Grand Ole Opry is from La Scala. Gordon's district is a fat, reverse letter "C" that surrounds Nashville on the north, east and south. Tanner represents the entire northwest corner of Tennessee, beginning in the north suburbs of Memphis.  Skelton represents west-central Missouri south of Kansas City and east to Jefferson City.  Spratt represents north central South Carolina, the largest cities in the district being Rock Hill and Sumter. 

The Cook Political Report (which is hidden behind an expensive subscription fire wall) notes that:

Less than a year out from Election Day, it's time to rethink who the vulnerable Democrats are. And if President Obama is the dominant issue of the 2010 midterms (and rarely has a midterm not been a referendum on the incumbent president), Democrats ought to be seriously concerned about districts where reliable surveys suggest voters are in open revolt against him. Democrats would rather not draw attention to their problems in these districts, but both parties recognize the sea change underway.

In 2006 and 2008 when the Democrats sought to recruit candidates for Congressional districts in small town America they looked to these multi-term Congressman as a prototype to recruit in small town districts if they wanted to win control of the House. Out went the flaming left wing radicals from the college towns in such districts, and in came the military veterans, business owners, church elders and former star jocks -- all with their small town vocabularies and main street values. That these models for the new Democrat majority may now themselves be in peril because of voter reaction to the President's policies speaks volumes about the difference a year can make in politics.

It also suggests that the Democrats in suburban and small town districts who were first elected in 2006 and 2008 have good cause to be extremely nervous.  They are on the horns of a dilemma.  Should they thwart party leadership, they place themselves at risk a well-funded primary challenge from the left.   If they don't distant themselves from the administration, it is a pretty safe bet a challenger with local popular support will make their ties to Obama's leftist agenda the major issue in the general election.    

It is still unknown whether the above five veterans will draw serious challengers in 2010.  On the other hand, a locally known challenger to freshman Democrat Tom Perriello, (VA-5) entered the race over a month ago.  Perriello won the sprawling rural district in south and central Virginia by only 800 votes and has antagonized many local voters since then with his actions on Health Care Reform.  Recent Republican successes in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in many municipal elections around the nation are likely to cause even more candidates to toss their hats in the Congressional ring in the weeks and months to come. 
After the 2008 election, Obama basked in a triumph of superlatives that would have made a Caesar returning for the barbarian wars blush, so thickly did the media slather on the paeans to semi-divine political status   In 2010, it is starting to look like Obama may be worse than deadly Caesium-137 to incumbent Democrats. 

James Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot writes that the Cook Political Report is now reporting that  Obama has become so unpopular in the hinterland that multiple term Democrat Congressmen like Ike Skelton (MO-04, first term began in 1977), John Spratt (SC-05, first term in 1983), Bart Gordon (TN-06, 1985), John Tanner (TN-08 since 1989) and Rick Boucher (VA-09 since 1983)  may be in for the political fight of their lives should they run for reelection and draw serious challengers. Cook describes Obama's status in these districts as "beyond radioactive."   What makes this assessment particularly stunning is that Botcher and Gordon drew no Republican challenger in 2008, Tanner's opponent was totally disavowed by the local Republican Party and Spratt and Skelton won landslide victories with well over 60% of the vote.  


For those not familiar with the districts, Botcher represents most of southwestern Virginia, a rural area that is culturally as distant from Fairfax County and the other affluent suburbs of Washington, DC as the Grand Ole Opry is from La Scala. Gordon's district is a fat, reverse letter "C" that surrounds Nashville on the north, east and south. Tanner represents the entire northwest corner of Tennessee, beginning in the north suburbs of Memphis.  Skelton represents west-central Missouri south of Kansas City and east to Jefferson City.  Spratt represents north central South Carolina, the largest cities in the district being Rock Hill and Sumter. 

The Cook Political Report (which is hidden behind an expensive subscription fire wall) notes that:

Less than a year out from Election Day, it's time to rethink who the vulnerable Democrats are. And if President Obama is the dominant issue of the 2010 midterms (and rarely has a midterm not been a referendum on the incumbent president), Democrats ought to be seriously concerned about districts where reliable surveys suggest voters are in open revolt against him. Democrats would rather not draw attention to their problems in these districts, but both parties recognize the sea change underway.

In 2006 and 2008 when the Democrats sought to recruit candidates for Congressional districts in small town America they looked to these multi-term Congressman as a prototype to recruit in small town districts if they wanted to win control of the House. Out went the flaming left wing radicals from the college towns in such districts, and in came the military veterans, business owners, church elders and former star jocks -- all with their small town vocabularies and main street values. That these models for the new Democrat majority may now themselves be in peril because of voter reaction to the President's policies speaks volumes about the difference a year can make in politics.

It also suggests that the Democrats in suburban and small town districts who were first elected in 2006 and 2008 have good cause to be extremely nervous.  They are on the horns of a dilemma.  Should they thwart party leadership, they place themselves at risk a well-funded primary challenge from the left.   If they don't distant themselves from the administration, it is a pretty safe bet a challenger with local popular support will make their ties to Obama's leftist agenda the major issue in the general election.    

It is still unknown whether the above five veterans will draw serious challengers in 2010.  On the other hand, a locally known challenger to freshman Democrat Tom Perriello, (VA-5) entered the race over a month ago.  Perriello won the sprawling rural district in south and central Virginia by only 800 votes and has antagonized many local voters since then with his actions on Health Care Reform.  Recent Republican successes in Virginia and New Jersey as well as in many municipal elections around the nation are likely to cause even more candidates to toss their hats in the Congressional ring in the weeks and months to come.