In battle for blue-collar vote, guns emerge as hot issue

The two Democratic candidates are trading harsh attacks on the issue of guns -- a topic that has been escalating in this campaign ever since the coverage of Obama's "bitter" comments started. But, somewhat paradoxically since this is a Democratic primary, they are both trying to display their anti-gun control credentials.

The Obama campaign has been contacting Pennsylvania voters with robocalls blaming Clinton for her anti-gun record, in particular her vote "banning the confiscation of weapons in emergencies." As the ad claims, "Barack Obama respects our traditions. Senator Clinton voted to allow guns to be confiscated, and this raises real doubts."

Clinton's response is as brutal, as she launched her own robocalls charges Obama with "not telling the truth about his past position on the Second Amendment:"

As an Illinois state Senator, he supported a ban on all handguns, and he even personally filled out a questionnaire saying he supported the ban... And Obama voted to give millions of dollars to anti-gun organizations that are trying to take away our gun rights.

This is just another example of Barack Obama saying one thing, and doing another -- and yet another issue John McCain will use against Obama to win in November.

The vigor of this gun exchange and both candidates' concern with proving their pro-gun credentials shows how essential the blue collar vote has become in tomorrow's vote. This wasn't necessarily the case in all the previous primaries; in many contests, Obama was targeting other groups that were close to Clinton. For a long time, Obama targeted African-Americans, a group he successfully rallied to his side at the beginning of 2008; subsequently, he focused on the female and Hispanic votes which he failed to significantly move in many high-profile contests.

Yet, it is Clinton's strength among blue-collar voters that has emerged as the most significant danger to Obama's nomination as this is Clinton's main argument for why Obama is unelectable (or less electable) in November. And the controversy over Obama's bitter remarks were seized by the Clinton campaign precisely to drive Obama's numbers down among this group of Pennsylvania voters; Clinton is hoping that, after tomorrow's vote, she will have more evidence that Obama has a potentially fatal weakness.

Obama knows he does not necessarily need to win Pennsylvania, nor does he need to prevail among downscale voters; but he does want to cut Clinton's margins to undermine her electability argument and the gun argument is one tactic his campaign has found to attract some blue-collar votes, or at least to drive down their enthusiasm for Clinton and get them to stay at home. Remember, this is the group whose turnout will likely determine tomorrow's result.

In brief, we will parse through exit polls as soon as they are available tomorrow for any evidence of the breakdown among lower-middle class voters, union households, etc. More than the actual results, these are the numbers that could drive the conversation in the days (and weeks?) ahead.



  • Please vote for Hillary Clinton! Any votes going to Barack Obama is a vote for futility. Barack Obama will not be elected! He's got too many skeletons in his closet.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 06:32  

  • Michael Jackson just endorsed Barack Obama. Anyone see the symbolism?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 06:48  

  • Michael Jackson's endorsement will be refused by Obama.

    By Anonymous Mighter benes Dirdy, At 22 April, 2008 06:52  

  • I am very upset that both Clinton and Obama are hiding thier gun-control pasts and are now claiming to be rabid 2nd amendment supporters. If had acknowledged thier past support for gun control but say that they changed their mind, the pandering would not seem so obvious. Yet they refuse to acknownledge there own gun control pasts. It is so shameless that the Dem party is so scared of the NRA that they need to parrot thier postions.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 07:09  

  • Obama is a hypocrite. Clinton's stance on gun control has been much more moderate than Obama's.

    Barack Obama needs to start telling the truth.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 07:15  

  • While I am glad Taniel's blog is receiving more traffic, I think it sad that the increase has brought along the anonymous trolls that make many boards unreadable. I hope that it doesn't get that bad, that the trash that has washed up on these shores gets carried back out to sea.
    Thanks to Taniel and the posters who add insight, analysis, and reasoned debate.

    By Anonymous David, Tallahassee FL, At 22 April, 2008 07:23  

  • The gun issue is pro-long gun/ anti-handgun. Not an NRA position. Blanket anti-gun stances aren't acceptable in this nation. Differentiate between the two or suffer the consequences. The NRA refuses to dis-own the hand-gun industry despite the fact the handguns infest inner cities and are useless for hunting. Gun rights good/ NRA bad. Handgun bans in cities good/ rifle restrictions in rural areas bad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 07:59  

  • Sorry Taniel that your fairweather readers are getting turned off when their guy loses. I don't see what kind of commentary they expect on election day. The news lately has talking heads parroting the comments here so I think that speaks volumes.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 08:15  

  • Taniel, can you give an update on the MS-01 Special Election today?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 08:26  

  • Taniel has good articles, it is a shame some anonymous people tyr and spam the comments section with no insightful or even interesting comments.

    The exit polls will be interesting along with the final result. What I find interesting is that Wisconsin which is a midwest state, small balck population, blue collar voted so overwhelmingly for Obama (>20%). It is interesting in it's own right plus it puts in perspective if a 10% victory for Clinton is enough - Obama has won multiple important states (MD, WI and VA) by very large margins. Clinton has not.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 22 April, 2008 08:37  

  • No,NY,NJ,MA,CA,OH,FL,MI, aren't important at all. People who complain about using anonymous instead of a name are just weak posters that resort to personal attacks instead of ideas. That's why voting has to be secret. People like that would physically attack their opponents' voters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 09:15  

  • I see the weak have resorted to discussing old news and spewing insults on the back pages where they're more comfortable. Taniel- you might need to close old comment boards. CNN was forced to do that a while ago from these Obamabots.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 09:51  

  • With respect I think supporters of both candidates are guilty of posting crap on here. Of course NY, NJ, MA, CA, OH are important but remember Clinton had home field advantage in NY/NJ and posted a 15% victory. Good but not outstanding. Thos states matter but do not get you 270EV's - you need other states like WA, OR, MN, MO, MD, WI so we can trade states as much as we like but we need a Dem candidate who can win both sets.

    By Anonymous Mike, At 22 April, 2008 10:00  

  • We need both to survive as viable and a combo ticket to sew up this game. They'll both be stronger from this fight and those that won't support the other need to be cancelled out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 10:08  

  • Gallup today indicates Democratic suicide. Hill is stronger against McCain but Obama is preferred. I think I'd rather win than have the guy I want to party with. We hired that beer guy and look what happened.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 10:13  

  • Indeed there have been alot of anom posters putting in responses that are more like flaming then anything else. I understand that everyone has thier biases (I certainly have mine) but it doesn't mean that you have to put it in condesending tones.

    On the gun issue, both Obama and Clinton have taken much tougher gun control paths before this election. Clinton strongly indentified and supported gun checks and other stuff in support of New York City with thier gun control laws while Obama did the same thing in illnois as a state senator.

    Also I do agree that there is a difference between handguns and bigger guns, but there is also a difference between cities and rural towns. I would be comfortable in a small town in Montana where everywhere brandishes guns, but in my home state of Maryland, if I saw hand guns everywhere in Baltimore, I would be dead.

    By Anonymous jaxx raxor, At 22 April, 2008 10:23  

  • I believe that the abilty to speak anonymously is a cornerstone of free speech and our democracy. Witness the effect of Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," published anonymously, on the desire for political independence of the American colonies from England. What I am decrying is the lack of civil behavior from the trolls who post inflammatory, derogatory, and ad hominem attacks from behind an "anonymous" moniker. By all means, stay informed, have an opinion, and debate your position; but "Hooray for our side" and "Your candidate is a ninny" are neither productive or useful. So let's debate the issues while keeping the discourse civil.

    And no, I shan't move to Canada. I love THIS country too much, and I am willing to defend her, from my youth spent in the Marines to my time on some blog.

    Have a great day, y'all.

    By Anonymous David, Tallahassee FL, At 22 April, 2008 10:26  

  • Gallup today indicates Democratic suicide. Hill is stronger against McCain but Obama is preferred.

    Yes, and Rasmussen today has Obama running three points better than Clinton against McCain. When it's close, one can always find a selection of polls that has one candidate or the other ahead. (And since Gallup has both candidates ahead of McCain, how would either candidate constitute "Democratic suicide" if either of them supposedly would win?)

    Overall, the polls show both candidates doing virtually the same against McCain (realclearpolitics.com is a good place to see the summary). And they comparisons between the head-to-head matchups are usually within the margins of error. So other than "it's close at the moment," it's hard to conclude much from the numbers.

    And it's a long way to November.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 10:42  

  • I did preface that with Gallup. (Jaxx-please remember "i" before "e" rule. I keep reaching for my red pen.) I think you guys get the point about the flaming. It wasn't serving Obama well for your side to be so engaged in that behavior. You'd really be embarrassed to read the CNN ticker. Also keep in mind (as Jaxx does) that the "either with me or against me" tactic is counterproductive as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 10:57  

  • Today's Rasmussen has them both losing to McCain. I'm a glass half full guy, I'll take the Gallup instead.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 11:22  

  • (Apologies if these excerpts are not from the same poster.)

    I did preface that with Gallup.... Today's Rasmussen has them both losing to McCain. I'm a glass half full guy, I'll take the Gallup instead.

    So Rasmussen has them both losing (though Obama would be within the margin of error). So what? Doesn't the poll still show that Obama would be the stronger candidate with less ground to make up? What's the basis for assuming one poll is accurate and not the other?

    In other recent polls, Cook/RT has Obama +1, Clinton tied. Gallup Tracking has Obama tied, Clinton +1. Newsweek has both +4. Unless one can point to flaws in the polls for reasons to count some and discount others, it seems to me that the results between the candidates is indistinguishable, especially when the polling margin of error is considered. (And that's assuming the polling this far out from the general election is meaningful, which it might not be.)

    If one chooses to pay attention only to evidence that supports one's position and reject everything else, we wind up going into Iraq looking for WMDs. I think it's important to at least try to look at the entire data irrespective of one's own personal preferences.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 13:29  

  • Dsimon- you're jumping to conclusions that are unfounded. A comment about Gallup has to do with Gallup. Do you hold that Rasmussen is correct and Gallup is false? I don't think so. Don't question what you don't understand.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 13:37  

  • Do you hold that Rasmussen is correct and Gallup is false?

    Not at all. I think it's pretty clear I didn't write that. I wrote that it's important to look at all the polling, not just one poll that supports one's preferred candidate.

    And I asked why you seemed to be endorsing Gallup but dismissing Rasmussen--and all the others which show no discernible differences as to how either Democratic candidate does against McCain at the moment (especially when one considers the polls' margins of error).

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 13:58  

  • You assumed. You did not ask. My point went over your head. Next time ask first. Sometimes satire eludes people. I don't think you'd get the point if I tried to explain it to you. The joke was on you anyway so it's just as well.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 22 April, 2008 14:12  

  • The joke was on you anyway so it's just as well.

    Well, when you have someone who appears to cherry-pick facts, doesn't seem to do homework before posting, and reads things into other people's posts that they didn't write, it's hard to tell what's a joke and what's not.

    By Blogger dsimon, At 22 April, 2008 19:51  

  • The constitution of the United States (do you anti-gun people remember that one?)states: ...the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. What is it that you do not understand about those words? Noone who would take away handguns or long guns will be elected president in this nation. And if they try to take away handguns there will be a civil war. Guarantee it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At 27 April, 2008 02:30  

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