Trouble in Obama's back yard?
Six weeks ago a poll that suggested Obama may be in trouble in suburban Cook County was widely dismissed as an outlier. Not only does a new poll of Illinois' 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of northern Cook County, show that Illinois suburbanites are turning against the President, but a news report suggests the Obama campaign may be getting a bit desperate in its moves to ensure a high turnout among Blacks in Chicago and its south suburbs.
According to a report by Mike Krause of WBBM, the CBS affiliate in Chicago, a police report was filed by David Lowery, the President of the South Suburban Branch of the NAACP against an official in the re-election campaign of Barack Obama. Here's Lowery story.
David Lowery says he believes he was threatened during a phone conversation with Louis Raymond, the Illinois political director for Obama for America.
Lowery says he doesn't personally support the president because he's not addressing issues important to the black community. He said he was explaining that to Raymond when the Obama campaign official told him, "You know what? I know everything about you."
Lowery says Raymond added, "We've been watching you, and since you don't support Obama, we'll deal with you," before hanging up.
Lowery filed a report with the Oak Forest police report, he says, "in case something happens."
The Obama campaign claims it was all a matter of "miscommunication".
This above incident combined with these poll results suggests the 2012 presidential race in Illinois may be shaping up as a reply of the 2010 Chicago versus the rest of Illinois gubernatorial and US Senate election. ( see also: Obama camp may be freaking out today)
The poll, from WeAskAmerica, finds Obama with just a 2 point lead over Romney, 47-45 in the suburban district. Obama won the district in 2008 by 23 points.
I know the district well. It is affluent, with high levels of education, and very socially liberal. Voters there take pride in being politically "moderate" and wear the label as a badge of honor. Since the 1980s, the district has been represented by a Republican in Congress, but not by anyone who could be mistaken for a conservative. Al Gore and John Kerry both carried the district comfortably in 2000 and 2004. And, in 2008, Obama won over 61% of the vote in the district.
Last year, during redistricting, the Democrats in Illinois made the district even more Democrat, looking to unseat freshman GOP Congressman Bob Dold. In this poll, Dold leads his opponent by 2 points, 47-45. It should be noted that this poll was conducted before last night's debate, so the surprising results don't reflect Obama's lackluster performance in Denver.
I also know the district well as most of my client base of family owned businesses lived in this district. That the 10th District seems to have turned on Obama doesn't surprise me. While voters there tend to be trendy liberals, many also have a deep pragmatic streak. Competence and honesty often matter more than party labels and they will fire politicians who didn't perform.
In 1992 many of my clients were enchanted with the idea of making Carol Moseley Braun America's first Black woman senator. After Moseley Braun's ethical problems and basic competence came to question many former supporters dropped her for conservative banker turned politician Peter Fitzgerald in 1998. Fitzgerald's reputation for integrity mattered more than his stance on social issues. It didn't hurt that his education and business background was so similar to that of many of the District's residents -- highly successful family, top notch education, a career of social service after the family business was sold to an international corporation. In 2010 these voters backed one of their own, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk, over Obama's minion, Alexi Giannoulias in the US Senate race, in part because of persistent issues over the shady practices of the bank Giannoulias' family owned.
I've noted before the perfect candidate is one who reflects the idealized view most voters in a district or state have of themselves. Many of the suburbs in this congressional district are quite similar in demographics and outlook to the Boston suburb of Belmont that the Romneys called home for many years. Two of the worst insults in this world are to call someone incompetent or unprofessional. A candidate of Mitt Romney's education, drive, competence, generosity and integrity would have tremendous appeal to these voters even before Wednesday night's debate.