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Morning Jay: The Importance of Bill Clinton

6:00 AM, Sep 5, 2012 • By JAY COST
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And therein lies Barack Obama’s core challenge: poll after poll after poll shows him dangerously underperforming among white voters. The CNN/ORC poll has him clocking in at 39 percent, the Gallup poll at 38 percent, and the Rasmussen poll at 36 percent. He won 43 percent of whites in 2008.

All of these numbers are likely too low to deliver reelection, even with strong support from non-whites. And as for non-white voters, it is worth remembering that some of them are swing voters: the Hispanic vote has toggled between 69 percent for House Democrats in 2006, 67 percent for Obama in 2008, 60 percent for House Democrats in 2010, and 53 percent for John Kerry in 2004. The Asian American vote has moved similarly.

If 2008 was a “perfect storm” for the GOP, then this year could very well see a decline in the Democratic hauls, if not among African Americans then among Asians and Hispanics. At the least, it will be very difficult to pull more votes from non-whites to match what appears to be a significant drop among white voters. Currently, Rasmussen finds Obama winning 57 percent of the non-white/non-black vote; Gallup finds him at 58 percent. Compare that to 66 percent for Obama in 2008 and 54 percent for Kerry in 2004, and you can appreciate that the non-white/non-black vote is not currently matching the high point for Democrats.

The fact that Team Obama has outsourced the pitch to somebody best described as an Obama “frenemy” suggests the president has a real problem here. And worse for them, it indicates that the two principal messengers of Team Obama, namely the president and vice president, are not capable of making the argument effectively by themselves. Indeed, the Rasmussen poll shows a whopping 50 percent of whites “strongly disapprove” of the president’s job performance. They are not going to be receptive to a message from Team Obama, but maybe Clinton can do the trick.

Over the years, Obama campaign team has always been extraordinarily bold. After all, it required a real audacity for Obama to run for president in the first place, let alone top political talent to sign up with him rather than stay neutral and avoid the wrath of the Clintons. Just as boldness can lend itself to arrogance, it is no surprise that Axelrod, and to a lesser extent Plouffe, are representing a very strong hand. But the extensive use of Clinton suggests they might just be bluffing.

Jay Cost is a staff writer for THE WEEKLY STANDARD and the author of Spoiled Rotten: How the Politics of Patronage Corrupted the Once Noble Democratic Party and Now Threatens the American Republic, available now wherever books are sold. 

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