The Long View: Bittergate’s Lasting Effects

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As Barack Obama continues to defend himself against accusations of elitism (from a senator who pulled in $109 million since 2001 and another senator who married a beer-distribution heiress worth $24 million), the media and party elite are trying to figure out what effect Bittergate will have going forward. One would assume that insulting a large block of swing voters is not a good thing, but perhaps they've been too busy hunting, praying, and hating immigrants to really care: A Gallup national daily tracking poll actually shows an increase in Obama's lead since April 11, when the "bitter" remarks gained attention. And though a Pennsylvania poll yesterday showed Hillary Clinton with a twenty-point lead, another one released this morning that was conducted over the weekend shows only a six-point lead — unchanged from a week ago. Nevertheless, most agree that Obama's blunder and the renewed round of Democratic infighting that has followed have helped John McCain's chances come November.

• John Fund writes that Obama's latest misstep is just the latest in a string of "cultural miscues" from a candidate who has never really been tested in a political race before. His propensity to make mistakes — from keeping Reverend Wright close until those videos surfaced to griping about the price of arugula at Whole Foods — should worry the Democrats because he would face a Republican who has been vetted in two presidential campaigns. [WSJ]

• John B. Judis believes Bittergate will "haunt" Obama if he makes it to the general election. Whoever the Democrat nominee was going to be would have a hard time winning the necessary number of the heartland's white working-class voters, but now Obama has made it much harder for himself. This is especially troublesome in light of his weak numbers in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, because he'll need to those white working-class voters to flip some other swing states in order to win. [New Republic]

• Likewise, Scott Helman notes the irony of Obama's having planted the seeds of suspicion with the very voters he has looked forward to bringing under the Democratic umbrella, often citing his primary victories in red states. [Boston Globe]

• Jay Cost notes that so many superdelegates (about 40 percent) are on still on the fence because of Obama's poor performance among Ohio's white voters. If his "bitter" comments turn off anyone, it'll be the very voters that superdelegates were worried about in the first place. [Horserace/RealClearPolitics]

• Matthew Yglesias thinks the importance of campaign gaffes in deciding elections is overstated, since voters can't really identify why they support one candidate over another anyway. [Atlantic]

• E.J. Dionne Jr. blames both Obama's careless statements and Clinton's shameless piling-on for making it easy once again for the Republicans to "pretend one more time that they are the salt of the earth." [WP]

• Joe Klein says the questions on guns and God that Obama is now facing will be used as distraction by the GOP in the fall, though Klein doesn't think it'll be as effective this time around because we're "in the midst of two wars, an economic crisis and a desperate need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels." [Swampland/Time]

• One place to look for signs of general-election fallout is the University of Iowa's Electronic Market. Leslie Wayne writes that Clinton's shares in the market have risen during Bittergate, showing that investors believe she now has a better chance of becoming the nominee. At the same time, the more Clinton and Obama slug it out, the more investors are betting on John McCain to win it all. [Caucus/NYT] —Dan Amira

Earlier: Bittergate: Pundits Doubt Obama As Never Before

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.