Ruth Marcus ventures out of the Beltway (a grand idea, which she should encourage her colleagues to do more often) and reports back:
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Douglas McKinney said he was unconcerned. “A minority of them have made their peace” with Obama, he said of Democrats who backed Clinton in the primary. “Obama’s entirely too liberal. His positions on gun control and abortion are more than most people in West Virginia can overlook.”
Indeed, hours of interviews with voters — outside the Wal-Mart in Mingo, up the road in Logan County, and north of Charleston in the swing county of Jackson — illustrate Obama’s uphill climb and raise questions about similar voters in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. It does not take long to hear the worst rumors about Obama — or to wonder how the people repeating them would deal with the fact of an Obama presidency, if it comes to pass.
Yes, she finds some remarks on race and some suspicions that Obama might really be a Muslim after all. But maybe we should give these voters some credit. Obama is extreme on gun control and abortion. Are these voters’ political antennae any less accurate than those of the punditocracy, which is convinced all those years Obama spent with Bill Ayers, ACORN, Rashid Khalidi, the Annenberg Challenge and the Woods Fund are meaningless? Who is more savvy — the fellow in West Virginia who thinks Obama is an ultra-liberal or the Colin Powells who are convinced Obama won’t turn out anything like he’s advertised himself to be?
If Obama is elected, we’ll get a chance to find out. But one thing to keep in mind: people outside the Beltway are generally a whole lot better at figuring out when they are being sold a bill of goods. I think I’ll put my money on McKinney’s powers of observation over those of, say, Ken Adelman. The latter’s crystal ball, after all, has been known to fog up.