The big story in the primaries Tuesday is not so much about which candidate won or lost on the ballot, but the strong showing in Kentucky’s Democratic presidential primary of a political outsider. His name is “uncommitted.”
In what could only be called the latest embarrassment to President Barack Obama, a whopping 42 percent of Democratic primary voters in the Bluegrass State took the option of voting for “uncommitted.” Indeed, as of 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, “uncommitted” was actually defeating the sitting President of the United States in 60 counties.
After Obama followed Bill Clinton to become the second Democratic president since FDR in 1936 to seek a second term without primary opposition, it was felt that he would lead a united and presumably enthusiastic party going into the fall campaign. But unlike Clinton, Obama is facing a string of humiliations from Democratic voters who opt in large numbers for “uncommitted” or fringe candidates who get on the ballot in primary states.
Earlier this month, an incarcerated Texas man named Keith Judd received 41 percent of the vote against Obama in the West Virginia primary. In Oklahoma, Obama garnered a mediocre 57 percent of the primary vote against unknowns who made the Sooner State ballot. And in North Carolina last week, “uncommitted” made news by drawing 21 percent of the vote against him.
Tuesday, that figure was doubled in Kentucky. The embarrassment to the president that is sure to ignite speculation about Obama’s standing within his own party was coupled with results from Arkansas. There, John Wolfe drew one-third of the primary vote against Obama.
There has long been criticism among Democratic activists and party leaders that Obama, who won nomination in ’08 thanks to far-left groups such as Moveon.org, rather than traditional Democratic workers, has been aloof from his party mechanism and sporadic in oiling the Democratic machine. This is in striking contrast to Bill Clinton, who regularly courted party leaders and donors and, as one wag put it, “would attend the opening of an envelope.”
This could be a reason for votes such as those in Kentucky and Arkansas. Or it could be a sign of frustration from Southern Democrats over the Obama agenda in general. We’re sure to hear a lot of speculation on this in the days to come.