We’ve noted this issue before. But a number of readers have brought it up in response to the post below about red state Democrats endorsing Obama. In so many words, perhaps the pattern is that Obama does well in states with large black populations (at least in terms of primaries) and states with very small black populations. The problem is in states with substantial but not particularly large African-American populations in which you have a deep-seated and pre-existing racial politics that ends up playing in Clinton’s favor. This, if the theory is right, would explain why Obama does well in the Mountain West and the South but has a harder time in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio.
I think this is part of an explanation. But I don’t think it adequately deals with all the admittedly small set of data we have. How, for instance, does it account for Obama’s victories in Missouri, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut among other states? The first three of those in particular suggest that the pattern is not that simple.
In the highly unlikely event that Obama wins Pennsylvania, perhaps we’ll decide the whole pattern was a mirage, based only on the outcome of Ohio. But the pattern does seem to apply particularly to states that not only have a racial make-up similar to the population of the country as a whole but are also in the rustbelt. If that pattern holds perhaps it’s more the almost combustible and simmering mix of race and class divisions.
Meanwhile, TPM Reader JB has a completely different take on the question …
I have a simple answer for the question as to why Obama’s getting endorsements from red and purple states: it has to do with Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy, together with Obama’s strategy of campaigning everywhere, as opposed to the Clinton/McAuliffe strategy of focusing resources on a few key states.
(Yes, I know that Dean is officially neutral, but his style fits better with Obama’s than with Clinton’s).
Simply put, Democrats in places like Montana or Wyoming are going to be better off this fall, for their own races, with Obama’s people running the party than with Clinton’s people, despite any concerns over Rev. Wright. They’ll get more resources thrown their way, and an emphasis on grassroots fundraising instead of reliance on a bunch of billionaire friends of the Clintons will also send more resources their way. And that remains the case even if Obama winds up falling short.
The Clintonites will scream about squandered resources, because for them, the resources run out when all their friends have kicked in their $4600. But if you run in more places, you can actually raise revenue from people who wouldn’t have considered contributing before.