President Obama’s performance in next Tuesday’s Arkansas primary won’t be as embarrassing as what happened in West Virginia two weeks ago, when he gave up 41 percent of the vote to someone who happened to be sitting in a federal prison in Texas for embezzlement.
But it may well do more lasting damage to his party.
Obama lost Arkansas by 20 points in 2008 and has virtually no chance of carrying the state this year in the November general election. Even many Democrats, it seems, have never warmed to him.
“I don’t think you can ignore race, but I would say there’s a broader cultural factor that is more pertinent,” says Ouachita Baptist University political scientist Hal Bass, who notes that the president differs from many in the largely rural state due to his being a “very urban, very urbane individual.”
The president’s weakness has created an opening for John Wolfe, a Tennessee lawyer and sometime congressional candidate, who took just 246 votes — or 0.4 percent of the total — in this year’s New Hampshire primary.