On Tuesday, the campaign to re-elect President Obama opened its Arkansas headquarters in North Little Rock. However, it appears Obama has almost no chance of actually winning the state. The bigger question is how much Obama's unpopularity will affect races down the ballot n the fight for control the state Legislature.
On Tuesday, the campaign to re-elect President Obama opened its Arkansas headquarters in North Little Rock. However, it appears Obama has almost no chance of actually winning the state. The bigger question is how much Obama’s unpopularity will affect races down the ballot n the fight for control the state Legislature.
When the office opened, campaign manager Jim Messina addressed a small crowd of Obama supporters. He began by discussing problems the administration had inherited from President Bush, then talked about what he believed were the president’s accomplishments.
“One historian said (Obama) had more notches on his belt then any president in a very long time. Think about all the things he got done,” said Messina. “And don’t think about what we got done; think about why he did it. He did health care because it is a fundamental right of all of us to have health care reform in this country. He passed a bill to allow people to serve in the armed forces no matter who they loved because America is a tolerant place. He doubled renewable energy because he knew America had to stop depending on foreign places for oil and build our own energy in the United States of America.”
Messina’s boasting of passing Obamacare, repealing of “don’t ask don’t tell,” and the administration’s environmental policies seemed odd topics to bring up in Arkansas.
Noticeably absent from the event were almost all elected Democratic officials and candidates. The only elected officials I noticed were State Sen. Linda Chesterfield and State Rep. Tracey Steele. Herb Rule, 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate, was the only candidate in attendance with an opponent in November. He faces Republican incumbent Congressman Tim Griffin.
How to deal with the top of the ticket has become a landmine for most Democrats in Arkansas, much to the delight of many Republicans.
“If President Barack Obama wants to waste his money in Arkansas, then let him,” said Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb. “With unemployment still high, gas prices soaring and Obamacare threatening small businesses, it’s unlikely any local Democrats running for office in Arkansas will want to stand with the president and promote his failed policies.”
A new poll from Talk Business backs up Webb’s statement. The survey showed that nearly two out every three Arkansans disapprove of Obama’s job performance. Most troubling for Democrats, perhaps, is that 74 percent of the all important independent voters disapprove of Obama.
In a likely November match-up with Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, the poll showed Romney winning the state by over 23 points with 56.5 percent to 33 percent for Obama. Romney would even pick up 20 percent of those who identified themselves as Democrats.
It appears all but impossible for state Democratic candidates to overcome the Obama factor in November. Democrats suffered significant losses in Arkansas in 2010 when the popular Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe led the ticket. It is hard to believe it will be better this year when President Obama is the first name on the ballot.
• • •
Jason Tolbert is an accountant and conservative political blogger. His blog — The Tolbert Report — is linked at ArkansasNews.com. His e-mail is jason@TolbertReport.com.