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Good news, bad news for Democrats, Obama in Murtha district

The special election in Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district was supposed to be the harbinger of things to come in Nov. It didn't turn out the way Republicans had hoped. But it didn't exactly turn out the way the Democrats had hoped, either. In fact, if I were the Obama White House, I'd be a little alarmed.

The 12th district held promise for both parties. Because it was a special election to replace the late Rep. Jack Murtha (D), it was viewed as a exhibition match before November's main event. That it went for Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2004 and then for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 made it a true swing district. A GOP victory would have been huge. Instead, Republicans were handed a huge defeat. Former Murtha staffer Mark Critz (D) whopped Republican businessman Tim Burns 53 percent to 45 percent. Just how huge is summed up nicely by Politico.

But that same story highlights why I view this Democratic victory as a problem -- at this moment in time -- for the president. Critz is pro-life. He's pro-guns. And he ran against the president's signature achievement: the health-care law. That was kind of an easy thing to do since only 28 percent of those polled in the district support it. And then there's Obama's own job approval rating -- 33 percent favorable versus 57 percent unfavorable.

Pennsylvania's 12th congressional district is filled with the very blue-collar voters who didn't connect with Obama during the 2008 primaries. Murtha endorsed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), who went on to win all the counties in that district (and the Pennsylvania primary outright by 9 points). Obama's "cling to guns or religion" remarks about small-town Pennsylvania while at a San Francisco fundraiser exacerbated the problem.

I discussed this on "Morning Joe" today (start the viewer at 3:23). As I was leaving the set, National Journal columnist Ron Brownstein told me not to worry about the blue-collar vote for Obama. They'll come around when the president is up for election, he said. That'll be wishful thinking if those voters don't experience the revived economy in a tangible way and if they don't start seeing the benefits promised by the president's health-care law -- both of which are vital to keeping the anti-incumbent, anti-Washington flames now engulfing the Capitol from consuming the White House.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 19, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Ron Brownstein on Obama and blue-collar voters

Comments

These few but important primaries should really by viewed as very positive for Democrats, never mind the caveats. A real Democrat, Sestak, knocked off a former Republican, Specter. That's good. Critz, a solid Dem, crushed tea party Republican Burns. Tea person Rand Paul won big over McConnell protege Grayson, damaging the Party of No leader in Congress, and look how many more, a surge, Democrats voted in the Kentucky primary!

Lincoln vs. Halter remains to be seen, but for now..

Posted by: dudh | May 19, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The PA 12th has been anti-Obama since well before he even won the DNC nod, let alone the White House. So for it to be anti-Obama now cannot be taken as a litmus test on his policies. Rednecks are gonna do what rednecks are gonna do--it would be foolish to use them as a predictor for November.

Posted by: ktappe | May 19, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Politico's analysis of PA-12 is incoherent.

Murtha received 60,000 votes in the last midterm primary in 2006.

His Republican opponent in 2006 received 21,000 votes.

In this special election, Critz received 72,000 votes.

Burns received 60,000.

It was a 20% increase in support for the Democrat.

It was a 180% increase in support for the Republican.

Critz also had the advantage of a contested statewide Senate Primary for the Democrats who had a higher turnout as a result.

Sestak pushed Critz passed BUrns.

In the General, Independents and a more sizable GOP turnout would allow the GOP to win this seat.

Furthermore,

The Republican leads both Democrats in Arkansas by 20 points.
THe Republican leads the Democrat in Kentucky by 5 points.

In November, the GOP wins in Kentucky and Arkansas and has a much closer race in PA-12.

Posted by: Washington13 | May 19, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

These few but important primaries should really by viewed as very positive for Democrats, never mind the caveats. A real Democrat, Sestak, knocked off a former Republican, Specter. That's good. Critz, a solid Dem, crushed tea party Republican Burns.

==========================================

Critz did win the seat, but he's pro-life, pro gun, ran against the health care bill and avoided Obama like the plague. That doesn't sound like a "solid DEM" to me.

Posted by: bbface21 | May 19, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't read much into Critz's win in the PA 12th. Dems have held that seat and voted democratic in every election; holding a 2 to 1 registration advantage over Republicans, for 30 years. Perhaps Murtha was right when he created a "flap" about the people in his district not voting for a black man for President, because as far as I can tell, the only Dem this district has eschewed in nearly 3 decades has been the current President. A Dem just BARELY holding on to this seat is a bigger story than him winning; even if the press are trying like heck to obscure that fact by continually accentuating that John McCain carried the district in 2008, while downplaying the fact that Dems have owned that district both by result and registration for the entire recent past, except when Obama was the candidate. A white Dem winning this district again is a yawner in terms of national importance to this coming November.

Posted by: fredgrad2000 | May 19, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Not sure where you got those job approval ratings from. I can't find any with such a low number. Most are around 50/50, and have been for a long time.

Posted by: johntetzel | May 19, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Nevermind, I'm blind. That is for the district.

Posted by: johntetzel | May 19, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Obama is not "anti-gun" as the right continually tries to portray him, and as some of the posters here suggest. In fact, he's specifically said he has no interest in pursuing any new curtails on gun ownership. It's fine to be against him, but it helps to first know where he stands on the issues, or you look more than a little foolish.

Posted by: privacy1st | May 19, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

murtha's seat will go Republican in november when it counts....the temp elected democrat is just to clean up the funk and replace the carpet for the full term Repubican in november.....hey spector...how is the 'change' working for you....hahhahahahaha!

Posted by: JWx2 | May 19, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Every last incumbent needs to go. One of the main ideas behind The Constitution was we should not have a ruling class - then it was nobility. But in a few generations, the sheeple replaced nobility with a new ruling class - career politicians. Kennedy, Bush, Pelosi, Mollohan - just a few of the many "ruling" families that the sheeple keep reelecting over and over and over. They tax us and spend the money how they please - sound like nobility? They take bribes in exchange for favorable decisions (though they call it "lobbying," it is still really bribery) - sound like nobility? They pass laws covering the "common" people but exempt themselves (the latest being healthcare, but there are many more)- sound like nobility? The sheeple call them "leaders," but The Constitution says they should be "representatives.

If this generation starts voting against every incumbent - all of them regardless of party - we might have a chance to take our country back. But probably not. The sheeple are happy to be duped into the "us" vs. "them" repub/demo split (see most of the other comments here). So the same selfish scum of the "ruling class" continue to rule - because the sheeple are too stupid and lazy to think for themselves. Neither "party" is representing "The People." They are only taking care of themselves - each a greedy, selfcentered, arrogant charletan. Look at all the reports of corruption, debauchery and abuse of power - and those are only the ones who've been caught - are sheeple blind as well as stupid and lazy?

The Constitution not only gave the people protection from a ruling class, it gave them the power for a peaceful revolution - an unprecedented idea in human history. But it simply is not possible to have rights without responsibility. They go hand-in-hand. To do nothing is to give up responsibility - which is the same as giving up the associated right. Yes, it is easy to resign ourselves to the idea that there will be no perfect government - that the next one may be no better than the last - but to allow an imperfect government to go unchallenged is unforgivable. I repeat what I said earlier: The Constitution freed us from a ruling class. But we have installed another to replace it. That we've done it voluntarily is sad. But letting it continue is immoral. Every single incumbent needs to be removed in order to reset the tone of a nation where the power is centered in "The People."

Posted by: quark1 | May 19, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Sestak thumbed-his-nose at Obama and refused to take the bribe Not to run against Specter.
Someone in the democratic party could be in a lot of trouble for bribing a candidate
Not to run.
Any candidate who flip-flops either way is a weak candidate--and cannot be trusted.

Posted by: ohioan | May 19, 2010 11:43 AM | Report abuse

My take is that anyone who is "against" health care for all is basically against any "benefits" for the poor..."I've got mine..too bad for you".

Shameful.

Posted by: blrpalms | May 19, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Critz is pro-life. He's pro-guns. And he ran against the president's signature achievement: the health-care law.

===============================

and yet, Critz won the Democratic nomination

could a Pro Choice, anti gun republootard run against tax cuts and win a republootard primary ???

I don't think so

I'm thinking you republoootarded stenographers don't understand this whole "big tent" thingy

Posted by: nada85484 | May 19, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I hate the republican party.

They are obstructionists to the max. They are insurgent, fighting the will of the majority congress and president. They are beholden to our corporate bondage by their corporate benefactors.

Democrats can learn a few things from these lowlifes.

They know how to band together despite who is in power or not, they can stifle the process being the minority.

If Dems put up 1/10th of the fight that republicans now put up on anything - when dems were the minority, maybe, just maybe... we wouldn't have invaded Iraq or endured the other criminal acts conducted by the Bush Cheney mafia.

Dems take note. Learn how to stop republicans dead in their tracks.

Posted by: jfern03 | May 19, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

The Dems kicked a$$ last night, but the author would be a little alarmed? Hahaha. This author will fit right in with all the fact-hating Right Wing trolls on these forums.

Posted by: unpluggedboodah | May 19, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama SAYS he has no interest in gun rights. Whenever has Obama told the TRUTH? Never. He LIES constantly. Try to find some bullits for those guns. They are very scarce. Obama got rid of the contracts bullit makers had for the steel and the steel is going overseas. It does not come back as bullits!! What good are guns with bullits? Only the bad people have bullits! They make their own by stealing the steel!

Posted by: annnort | May 19, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse


Barry has a 33% approval rating in Critz' district. And has been pointed out, Critz voted against Obamacare, cap and tax, and most all of the other facets of Barry' agenda.

In other words Critz is a polar opposite of Jack Murtha.

Posted by: screwjob15 | May 19, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

"Barry has a 33% approval rating in Critz' district. And has been pointed out, Critz voted against Obamacare, cap and tax, and most all of the other facets of Barry' agenda.

In other words Critz is a polar opposite of Jack Murtha.

Posted by: screwjob15 | May 19, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse"

In other words, Critz should have no trouble winning a full term in November. Another failed Repuke pick-up.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | May 19, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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