Salena Zito

A battle is raging for Democrats’ souls, Rozell believes: “The moderate wing seems without direction, other than its argument that the party needs to do what is necessary to win election.”

Obama's electoral-college calculus is complicated by his not polling well among white Jacksonian-Democrats, said Curt Nicholas, a Baylor University political science professor.

That may put “several electorally rich, traditionally Dem-leaning states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania into play, while convincing many that he has less chance … of winning traditional battleground states like Ohio, Iowa and Florida,” he said.

Obama polls slightly better – but still not that well – in Nevada, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia, due to an influx of Latino voters in the first two and to highly educated professional whites in the last three.

That’s why he’ll begin a “jobs” bus tour in Virginia and North Carolina on Monday.

Nicholas said Obama’s “class-based populist attacks … are traditionally thought to appeal to the ‘Jacksonian’ white voters that he is polling the worst with, while repelling the professional white voters he is close to doing well with.

“That tack only works if the populist attacks are rhetorical” and don’t harm “the gentry-white's economic interests.”

Ted Manning owns The Pita Pit, a restaurant three blocks from where Obama spoke in Pittsburgh. How ironic, he thought, that Obama talked about small-business jobs when his visit caused Manning to lose a healthy chunk of revenue.

“I’m probably off at least 50 percent today,” he said of the streets blocked off for Obama’s visit.

Manning doesn't blame Obama for the bad economy, “but he hasn’t earned my vote, either. He hasn’t shown me he can get the job done.”

In his speech, Obama cited the city’s 100-year-old Hulton Bridge as an example of work that would be created by his jobs bill.

That bridge project is already scheduled for mid-2013, according to PennDOT spokesman Jim Struzzi: “Right now, (it) is in the engineering and design stage.”

Struzzi can name a dozen projects that would create construction jobs “but not that one specifically.”


Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.
 

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