Fox News — “I find it difficult to believe that Biden and the president just haven’t had a conversation about this.” — Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., talking to The Hill about Vice President Joe Biden’s newly expressed support for same-sex marriage.
The good news for President Obama is that he more than doubled his 2008 primary showing in West Virginia when Hillary Clinton trounced him 67 percent to 26 percent and carried all of the state’s 55 counties.
The bad news for Obama is that Keith Judd, Inmate No. 11593-051, serving a 210-month sentence at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, also outperformed the president’s 2008 West Virginia primary showing.
The real story turned out to be that Obama still has big problems where he’s had them all along: moderate, blue-collar Democrats.
Judd, who lists himself as a “Rastafarian-Christian” and his career as “Founder, World Peace Through Musical Communications Skills,” took 41 percent of the vote among West Virginia Democrats and carried 10 counties.
Power Play knows something about West Virginia politics and can assert without fear of correction that Judd did not carry Clay County because of a large “Rastafarian-Christian” population. And while Logan County has voted for a felon or two before, it’s not usually considered a positive attribute unto itself.
This was about hardening resentment against Obama on the state’s top economic issue – Obama’s mounting restrictions on the mining and burning of coal – as well as a general sense among blue-collar, socially conservative Democrats that there isn’t a place for them in Obama’s party.
Sen. Joe Manchin, who is pro-coal, pro-life and anti-gay marriage, has said he might not vote for Obama in November. Tuesday’s results suggest that there was little political downside. Though Manchin doesn’t face a competitive race this fall, a strong showing by Obama in the Mountain State might have given the senator pause.
As for the state’s Democrats facing competitive races, like Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Joe Rahall, Judd-mentum cannot be happy news. The same is true for Democrats in similar states, especially Kentucky, and those that contain swaths of the Jacksonian-minded Hillbilly Firewall, like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Tuesday’s showing makes Judd, technically, the most successful primary opponent to Obama this year and should earn him at least one delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September.
In Charlotte on Tuesday, a similar narrative was playing out as voters statewide approved a stringent ban on same-sex marriage 61 percent to 39 percent. A minimum of 35 percent of the 958,418 Democratic voters in the state voted for the constitutional amendment. The share is probably considerably higher since some number of Republicans no doubt voted against the amendment.
Team Obama is groping for a way to mollify gay activists demanding the president abandon his coy stance on same-sex marriage – Obama is said to be “evolving” on the subject – and paint Republican Mitt Romney as a bigot to the socially moderate suburban swing voters who are key to Romney’s hopes.