Obama Struggles Against Uncommitted In Kentucky, Unknown Candidate In Arksansas

Two weeks after losing ten West Virginia counties to a Federal Prison inmmate name Keith Judd, yesterday President Obama found himself running into similar trouble in the Democratic primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky:

President Barack Obama continued to have trouble on Tuesday performing in Democratic primaries in traditionally conservative states, barely eking out wins in Kentucky and Arkansas.

The president didn’t even have an opponent in Kentucky, but with 99 percent of the vote counted, Obama took just 57.9 percent of the vote, with the remaining more than 42 percent of ballots cast for “uncommitted.”

In Arkansas, with 70 percent of the vote tallied, Obama nabbed just 59 percent of the vote. His opponent there, John Wolfe, was able to take 41 percent of the vote at that point, according to The Associated Press.

Wolfe, an attorney from Tennessee whose platform includes repealing “Obamacare,” was able to win several counties.

It’s worth noting that none of this should really be a surprise. Obama lost both Kentucky and Arkansas to John McCain in the General Election by several hundred thousand votes a piece, and he’s not going to come any closer to winning either state this time around. During the 2008 primaries, he lost Kentucky to Hillary Clinton by some 250,000 votes and barely contested Arkansas, the political home base of the Clinton’s which he lost by a lopsided 70% to 26% margin.  The same was true of West Virginia in both the 2008 primary and General Election. In the long run, then, none of these results mean much of anything in terms of the outcome of the election, but they are certainly a stark reminder of the extent to which the Democratic Party in certain parts of the South has declined from its own seemingly insurmountable heights.

At the same time, though, as Chris Cillizza points out, the results in states like Kentucky could tell us something about what might happen in other states that will play a role in the election:

 North Carolina could be tougher sledding for Obama than we might have thought. Remember that Obama lost 21 percent of the vote in the North Carolina primary to “uncommitted” and that, outside of the Democratic Research Triangle, there are lots and lots of rural, culturally conservative voters who have a fair amount in common with people in Arkansas and Kentucky. (The same goes on Southeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.) Remember too that in the best year for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1996, Obama carried the Tar Heel State by just 0.4 percent in 2008. What does that tell us? He doesn’t have much of a margin for error in November in that state.

Indeed. Even before the same-sex marriage announcement, North Carolina was a state on a praepice for the Obama campaign. Results like this are a sign that they’ve got a very tough fight ahead of them if they are going to keep that state in the blue column.


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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JKB says:

    That’s it, nothing to see here. Just them racists and clingers. Many who talk funny.

    We can only hope the Dems take that attitude and stay in denial. A young up and coming Democrat governor had something similar happen to him. Way back before most here were politically aware. But then, he had the ability to learn from mistakes.

    But on primary day, Schwarzlose achieved what many believed impossible. With no TV ads and just a handful of appearances around the state, he garnered 30% of the vote against Bill Clinton. Experts dismissed it as something of a fluke, not realizing that Mr. Schwarzlose was tapping into growing discontent against Clinton and his policies. During the November general election, Clinton got another surprise, losing to GOP challenger Frank White. Clinton returned to the governor’s mansion two years later, having learned a hard lesson about losing touch with the electorate. (In From the Cold)

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The real point here, of which Chris Cillizza barely scratches the surface and still mostly is insouciant, is the extent to which Obama is persona non grata among white working class industrial workers and their families.

    Kentucky for example arguably has more in common with Southern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania than it does with the likes of Alabama and Georgia. It’s true it doesn’t matter what happens in Kentucky, in the literal sense, given that we knew in advance whomever won the GOP nomination was going to win that state. It does matter a great deal, however, what happens in Southern Ohio and in Western Pennsylvania. If Obama loses both of those states then it’s quite likely if not quite probable that Romney will become president. That’s the political elephant in the room. That’s what the mass media is missing.

    That all said, however, obviously Obama still has to be considered the favorite, if for no other reasons than the lockstep votes in his favor among blacks, public union members, full-time students and the very wealthy. Not too long ago I for one was willing to bet on that outcome. Now, not so much.

  3. Jim says:

    I confess to being somewhat mystified by the degree to which some states are discussed as must-wins for Obama. Even moreso when nearly all of these states are actually must-wins for Romney. The prime example is Florida: Florida isn’t a “key battleground” or anything like that. It’s a state that Romney absolutely has to win, and a state which Obama can easily lose and still win the election.

    North Carolina is similar — when did this idea come to be that North Carolina is some bellwether for Democrats in a presidential election? Because Obama eked it out in a blowout last time around? If North Carolina is razor thin, Obama’s almost certainly already won Virginia… and if that happens, he isn’t losing Nevada and Colorado, which he won by double digits in 2008.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    News Flash – A bunch of white democrats who didn’t vote for him in 2008 didn’t vote for him in 2012.

  5. Rob in CT says:

    @Ron Beasley:


  6. Jeremy R says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    News Flash – A bunch of white democrats who didn’t vote for him in 2008 didn’t vote for him in 2012.

    Yup. While massively outperforming recent democrats nationwide in 2008, Obama badly under-performed Kerry (by 20 pts in some cases) in these very same states he’s again under-performing in. This obviously predates “ObamaCare” so or any explanation many are pulling from his first term.

    The relevant electoral map:

  7. Scott O. says:
  8. Shirley says:

    Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

    Romney has proposed sweeping reforms in entitlements to reduce the budget deficit. In a Nov. 4 speech to the Tea Party-affiliated group Americans for Prosperity, Romney called for gradually raising the Social Security age “to keep pace with increases in longevity,” although the former Massachusetts governor did not specify when and how the eligibility changes would take place. On the campaign trail, Romney has advocated smaller benefits hikes for wealthier Social Security recipients.

    On Medicare, Romney wants to offer patients a “generous defined contribution” to buy either Medicare or private insurance. “Lower-income future retirees should receive the most assistance,” Romney said in an op-ed laying out the plan, and those now at or near retirement would not be affected. He has not released specifics about the subsidies but said the plan would lower costs by increasing competition.

    Like many in his party, Romney wants to cap spending for Medicaid, turn it into a block-grant program and give control of it to the states.

  9. Shirley says:

    These white Americans’ should read more about Mitt Romney before they punch that hold. I don’t know why they protest against President Obama this President has saved our country from the worst Recession in History.
    President Obama save this country without any help from the Republicans, they faught him every step of the way and lobbyists has spent more money to influence the Republicans and Blue Dog Democratics.
    Charles and David Koch, Grover Norquist, America Legislative Exchange ALEC, and Corporations have contribute huge sum of money to get what they want.

    Every one should search and read ” MONEY,POWER, AND WALL STREET”, who knew and when did they know.