Four in ten Democratic voters chose someone other than President Obama on Tuesday in primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.
In Arkansas, John Wolfe — a perennial, long-shot candidate — took 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Obama came in just under 60 percent. The Associated Press did not call the race for Obama until close to midnight.
And in Kentucky, 42 percent of Democrats chose "uncommitted" rather than cast a vote for the incumbent president. Obama took 58 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
With turnout low, Obama did get more total votes than presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won his primary with almost 67 percent of the vote. Obama had more than 118,600 votes to about 117,100 for Romney.
Obama's nomination for a second term by the Democratic Party has never been in danger. But the large number of defections is bad optics for Obama, highlighting widespread discontent with his administration among Democrats who come from conservative states.
Now, here's the problem: Some 80,000 plus voters here in Kentucky yesterday voted for "uncommitted" rather than the President. You can make all the excuses about policy, about the economy, about whatever you want, but the county map shows that the President lost 66 of 120 counties, and he lost every single one of the rural counties in the east (south and east of Wolfe County) and all but McCracken County in the rural west, and outside of Boone, Kenton and Campbell he lost all the northern ones outside the Cincy suburbs.
Folks, I've lived here. There's a reason why a state of majority registered Democratic voters gave John McCain the win here by 15 points in 2008. Hillary Clinton won here by thirty-five points four years ago. The headline really should read "Barack Obama becomes first African-American to win a statewide race in Kentucky". Period. It's the truth. It hasn't happened before. The 57% he got last night was a vast improvement compared to the 30% he got in 2008, people. It was historic.
Here's a hint as to why: it wasn't the "Obama administration policies" in 2008 any more than it was here in 2012. Mitt Romney got about the same number of votes that the President did in his primary, and Dems outnumber Republicans here about 60-40%. Romney will probably win here by 20 points, easy. I know it's bad here for Dems in the Bluegrass State, but this is pretty awful. Under no illusions that Obama had a chance, but damn, people. Pay attention, will you? It's freakin' Kentucky.
Oh, and in KY-4 it will indeed be Bill Adkins taking on Thomas Massie.