President Obama didn’t endorse Rep. Charles Rangel's reelection bid, but the embattled congressman’s primary victory against an upstart Hispanic challenger last night offers a few cautionary signs for the president’s reelection game plan.
The ethically-embattled Rangel was running in a newly-drawn district where 55 percent of voters are Hispanic, but an early look at the returns suggests that Latinos didn’t turn out in large enough numbers to give his opponent, Adriano Espaillat, enough of a boost.
That pattern of lagging Hispanic turnout has repeated itself throughout the primary calendar, even when the stakes are high. In California, one of the Democratic Party’s brightest recruits (who’s Hispanic) didn’t even make it on the November ballot because Hispanic voters didn’t show up at the polls to support him in the primary. The incumbent in the race, Rep. Gary Miller, is one of the leading voices against illegal immigration in Congress, recently sponsoring legislation that would end birthright citizenship for children of illegal immigrants born in the U.S. In Texas, redistricters drew nine majority-Hispanic congressional districts, thanks to the booming Latino population, but it looks like the state will only elect six Hispanic members of Congress in 2013.
Of course, turnout is likely to increase markedly during the November general election; minority turnout generally tends to be particularly low in primaries. At the same time, there was a lot on the line in these races -- a chance to expand one’s ranks in Congress and send a clear message on immigration.
President Obama is counting on his newly lenient immigration policies as the impetus for mobilizing and registering Hispanic voters. It’s definitely possible, but the primary results suggest it’s a lot easier said than done.
Hotline Executive Editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Obama Leads in Swing States But Falls Short of Majority Support
[National Journal, 6/27/12] President Obama is running ahead of Mitt Romney in three important swing states: Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. But the polls all show Obama below the critical 50-percent threshold for an incumbent, reflecting his approval rating in each of the three states.
Washington Post Will Not Retract 'Outsourcing' Story
[Politico, 6/27/12] Washington Post editors denied a request by Romney's campaign to retract a report on how Romney ordered the outsourcing of American jobs overseas during his time at Bain Capital.
Proof that Outsourcing Issue Could Re-Elect Obama? NEW!
[National Journal, 6/27/12] Democrats are betting heavily on an outsourcer-in-chief message based on a Washington Post report that Bain Capital helped companies pioneer the outsourcing of jobs while Romney was in charge. The surest sign that Democrats are smelling real blood -- not chasing a delusion -- is that, according to Politico, the Romney campaign pressed the Post to retract its story.
How Outsourcing Backlash Could Swing the Election in Key States
[The Atlantic, 6/27/12] Mitt Romney has made his business experience central to his case for election, so the Obama team wants to do whatever it can to tarnish his career in voters' eyes, The Atlantic's David A. Graham writes. Democrats have long had a weakness for protectionism -- but will this attack work?
Swing State Storm Clouds for Obama and Romney Alike NEW!
[National Journal, 6/27/12] The best news for Obama is that he leads in all three states the latest Quinnipiac University poll surveyed: Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio. But while the surveys show Obama leading Romney, they also place the president below 50 percent in all three states, both in his share of the vote and his job approval rating.
How Political Rhetoric Follows Gas Prices in Two Charts
[National Journal, 6/27/12] As the price at the pump surged this winter and spring, Republicans seized the issue to attack Obama. But as gas prices have dipped, the issue has all but disappeared as a talking point, both on the campaign trail and in the halls of Congress.
Should Democrats Worry About Hispanic Turnout?
[National Journal, 6/27/12] In House primaries that took place in states with significant Hispanic populations over the last month, Hispanic candidates suffered political disappointments because of low turnout from their own voters. This provides a warning to Obama, who has been aggressively courting Latino voters.
Our Supreme Court Has Lost its Honor NEW!
[Politico, 6/27/12] The Supreme Court is the branch of government that rules American life, controlled by nine people nobody elects who have absolute power. Politico's Roger Simon writes that although they are human beings, we expect them to put their political opinions aside.
Pawlenty Breaks With Romney on Afghanistan Policy
[BuzzFeed, 6/27/12] Gov. Tim Pawlenty, top Romney surrogate, criticized Obama's decision to publicly announce a deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan and dinged Romney for endorsing it in a radio interview on Tuesday. Pawlenty is a top vice presidential contender for Romney, and his disagreement is unlikely to impact on the selection.
Obama Uses Boos to Claim High Road Over Romney
[The Hill, 6/27/12] In a repeated effort to send a signal that he’s heading up a positive campaign even as he runs countless ads excoriating Romney’s business background, Obama is exhorting supporters on the campaign trail to avoid rounds of boos or catcalls directed toward Romney.
Democratic Campaign Chair Tells Candidates to Avoid Convention
[Reuters, 6/26/12] As a growing list of Democrats say they will not be joining their fellow partisans in Charlotte this year, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel is urging candidates to stay away from the convention. “If they want to win an election, they need to be in their districts,” Israel said.
Dems Go AWOL on Class War
[Politico, 6/27/12] Populism was for decades the Democratic Party’s defining cause, and some thought the tradition would spring back to life in the Obama years. But even though it seems now should be the moment for a good, old-fashioned class war, unapologetic populists are few and far between.
McCaskill Frustrated Obama Isn't Campaigning More in Missouri
[National Journal, 6/26/12] Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., expressed frustration on Tuesday that Obama has decided not to campaign in her state, which he lost narrowly in 2008. McCaskill, who will not attend the convention, said Obama’s decision is damaging her reelection bid.
Campaigns Fight to Win Over Voters in New Hampshire
[Boston Globe, 6/27/12] The sense in both campaigns is that the fight for New Hampshire’s four electoral votes will be close and possibly pivotal in November, prompting both teams to have a strong presence in the Granite State. But the state should be Obama’s to lose.
Paul Ryan Aiming for Ways and Means, Not VP?
[Real Clear Politics, 6/27/12] Even though Ryan has become a rock star to the right, his relatively limited experience in Congress suggests to some that he might seem like a one-trick pony. Plus, he can’t claim much in the way of private-sector experience.