[Guest post by DRJ]
Barack Obama’s race may be the least of his worries during the general election.
His biggest problem may be that voters believe Obama is an elitist, inexperienced, and holds views well to the left of the average voter:
“A survey released this month by the independent Pew Research Center found that most voters described Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, as “a centrist whose views are fairly close to their own,” even though McCain describes himself as a thoroughgoing conservative. The same voters described Obama as the most liberal of the candidates still in the race, well to the left of what they saw as the midpoint of American politics.
And Obama ranked below both McCain and New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination, on the question of whether the candidate was “tough enough” to protect the nation’s security.
Obama has “handicaps and potential problems, race being one of them, [but] it’s not the only one,” Pew Center President Andrew Kohut said. “He is perceived as a liberal. He is perceived by many voters as not well grounded on foreign policy and not tough enough . . . and he has a potential problem, distinct from race, of being seen as an elitist, an intellectual.”
Obama’s strengths include his ability to attract black and young voters, as well as the fact that this election year favors Democrats in a nation that has tired of an incumbent Republican. In addition, so far Obama has put together an effective campaign organization. Finally, Obama believes one of his strengths is his “specific plans for how we improve the lives of Americans.”
Obama’s campaign strategist David Axelrod, a long-time and trusted adviser to Richard M. Daley, has acknowledged Obama is weak with white voters but noted that the “white working class has gone to the Republican nominee for many elections, going back even to the Clinton years.”
Ultimately, I think the GOP will try to paint Obama as a liberal in the mold of Carter, Dukakis and Kerry. Obama will try to link McCain with the Bush Administration and run on an anti-Bush platform.
Barack Obama may be the new face of politics but the next election could be Bush-Kerry all over again.