Obama's Elder Problem

Candidate's yearning for the youth vote could trip him up in a general election.

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Although the National Review Online may have unknown motivations for saying so, a new article on the website concurs with my contention that Barack Obama, if he secures the Democratic nomination for president, may do so without the support of the most important Democratic constituency: older, white middle-class voters, including union members.

If, as current polls predict, Barack Obama loses Pennsylvania by a double-digit margin on April 22, the truly ominous omen will not be the loss itself, but his campaign's catastrophic inability to tailor its message to vital demographics.

I say "unknown motives" because one has to wonder why an ultraconservative website would care to point out flaws in an ultraliberal presidential candidate. But NRO makes a wonderful point that I have been trying to make all along through this Democratic primary process: It will be nigh on impossible for Obama to make a credible move to the middle in the general election and appeal, as he so urgently must, to mainstream voters. NRO describes the candidate's TV ads as reaching out to categories of voters he already has, instead of trying to recruit new supporters:

The ads feature shots of Obama reaching out and speaking to a typically young crowd, which may not be quite the right message for a state that has the third-largest number of seniors (as a percentage of the electorate) in the country. Will a 50-something former steelworker or factory laborer be swept up in talk of "turning the page" and "we are the ones we have been waiting for"? Even presuming this voter didn't tune out Obama the moment he saw footage of Jeremiah Wright God-damning the U.S.? About three weeks ago, Hillary's lead in the RealClearPolitics average was nine percent. Now it is 16 percent.