This Weekly Standard piece by Reihan Salam does a nice job laying out the difficult road ahead for both Barack Obama and John McCain. Assuming that Hillary Clinton does not blow the race back open by beating Obama in Indiana and North Carolina next Tuesday, she has given McCain the blueprint — and some of the talking points — for victory over Obama. Although Salam discusses minority outreach possibilities, the key question is whether the working-class white voters Obama has consistently lost to Clinton can be won by McCain.
Despite Obama’s losses in Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, we don’t really know the answer. These voters are feeling worse about the economy than they did in 2004 and, as Salam documents, the Republican brand is tarnished. (Upcoming special elections in Mississippi and Louisiana may indicated how tarnished.) Pace Thomas Frank, social conservatism tends to trump bread and butter issues when these voters feel most economically secure. Obama has serious electability problems — and so does McCain.
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