One of the best predictors of Democrats’ fortunes in the Fall is the ole Clinton vs. Obama electoral map. Incumbents in what can be called the Clintonian Belt are on notice. Last week, 18-year Rep. Alan Mollohan (D) was defeated in a primary in northern West Virginia, a state where Clinton won with 67%.
On Tuesday, voters will go the polls in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas – all Clinton states. Arkansas has some cross-currents: Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D) is a committee chairwoman in Harry Reid’s Senate, but she also has benefited from Bill Clinton’s support. She will probably win the nomination.
These states do overlap with what Michael Barone calls the Jacksonian Belt, which runs down the Appalachian spine, but Democrats has been losing in other Clinton areas. This was true in Virginia’s southwest in 2009, in New Jersey’s Middlesex in ’09, and Massachusetts’ South Shore in ’10.
So the elections on Tuesday are indeed a referendum on Obama. And if you think that the Republican primaries in Kentucky and Arkansas aren’t connected to Obama vs. Clinton, consider that both of those states (along with West Virginia and Pennsylvania) supported Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. So Clinton had to have won some of the Republicans.
In this superb map from Meng Bomin, Obama is blue and Clinton is red: