Michael Barone

Democrats are not supposed to be trailing there in times like these. The old political rule is that economic distress moves voters in the industrial heartland toward Democrats. Old-timers remember that that is what happened in recession years like 1958, 1970 and 1982.

In addition, Democrats are also trailing by margins that have been growing in U.S. Senate races in Pennsylvania and Ohio and are running even at best in Illinois. They're trailing by significant margins in the races for governor and senator in Wisconsin and Iowa, which Obama carried with 56 and 54 percent.

The industrial heartland is where Democrats hoped their economic policies -- the stimulus package, the auto company bailout, the health care bill -- would win over voters uneasy about their cultural liberalism.

They hoped that increased government spending would be seen as a tonic an ailing economy. Instead, it seems more like poison.

There are possible bright spots for Democrats in the four largest states. In Florida, as noted, their nominee is slightly ahead. In New York, Andrew Cuomo, pledging to hold down government employees' pay, is way ahead, though wary of the vitriolic attacks coming from surprise Republican nominee Carl Paladino.

In Texas, Republican Rick Perry, already the longest-serving governor in Texas history, is 5 points ahead of former Houston Mayor Bill White, the strongest Democratic nominee since incumbent Ann Richards was beaten by George W. Bush in 1994.

In California, eBay billionaire Meg Whitman has spent over $100 million, most on TV ads but also much on organization, and is up 5 points over Democrat Jerry Brown, who first won the office at age 36 in 1974 and was re-elected in 1978.

But none of these Democrats is running as a champion of Obama-style big government policies, which are anathema there as they are in the industrial heartland. The governor races, like the contests for Congress, are bad news for the Obama Democrats.

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM