Outwardly, Democrats talk about the strength of their ticket, especially since the addition of Joe Biden. Quietly, though, a strain of worry has crept into conversations in Denver, especially among delegates from battleground states. They wonder whether Barack Obama may run out of gas long before the November election date in the crucial states he needs to win the Presidency:
The anxiety comes in several forms, but particularly common is the pained look, followed by the quick glance away and the lengthy pause, in the face of a simple question: How is Barack Obama doing?
“Ahhh . . .,” said Barry Bogarde, political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that the senator from Illinois needs to win. “Better,” he finally said. “He’s doing better.”
Asked how things are going for Democrats in New Hampshire, another swing state that the party carried in 2004, the state party chairman, Ray Buckley, did not even mention Obama’s race against Sen. John McCain. He talked instead about efforts to win a Senate race and hold two congressional seats.
Jim Beasley, the commissioner of Ohio’s Department of Transportation, did not have high hopes for Obama in his area of southern Ohio. “Ahhh, well. Rural Ohio will be difficult,” he said. “Rural areas are difficult for him.”
While fundraising remains strong for Barack Obama, with back-to-back $50 million months, enthusiasm for his candidacy has declined considerably. Every national poll has Obama losing significant ground since finishing the primaries ahead of Hillary Clinton. Even among the most favorable sampling type — adults, not registered voters or likely voters — the race is a dead heat coming into the conventions, the first time in decades the Democrat has not had a wide lead at this point.
Unfortunately, the Democrats continue with some self-deception about the nature of their challenge. The Post reports that the so-called Bradley Effect, in which black politicians overpoll because of latent racism in the electorate, has gotten sotto voce discussion in Denver. Others more openly worry about running a black candidate for the ticket, somehow forgetting that millions of Democrats voted against Obama in the primaries.
They cannot bring themselves to admit the real weakness in their ticket. Barack Obama has no executive experience, no military experience, no private-sector leadership experience, and three undistinguished years in the US Senate. His attempt to run as a reformer got derailed the moment Obama became the first candidate since Watergate to refuse the public-financing system, along with its spending limits, and it got exposed as a joke when he added Joe Biden, a DC insider for 35 years, as his running mate. Without his crusade of reform and change, Obama has no qualifications for the job he seeks, and his reaction to the Russo-Georgia war shows how unprepared he is to take charge.
Small wonder, then, that battleground-state delegates would rather talk about state and local races than Obama’s chances in November. They’re preparing themselves for the disaster to come, emotionally and politically.