How Vulnerable Is Blue Dog John Barrow To Defeat In 2010?
After Barrow was redistricted out of his home base in liberal Athens he moved down to Savannah to try to make a presence in the newly gerrymandered 12th congressional district. The PVI there is D+1.24, so it's a Democratic-leaning district. Obama, while losing Georgia 52-47%, won the 12th District by a healthy 55.3-44.2% margin. Barrow wound up with 66% of the vote in the general election, with overwhelming support from African-Americans, who make up 44.8% of the population. Barrow had been an early backer of Obama, and in return Obama cut a radio spot for him that Barrow used to turn out the African-American and the youth vote, where enthusiasm for Obama was as gigantic as it was tepid for Barrow. It certianly helped Barrow win in the primary against an until-then-undefeated state senator, Regina Thomas.
Senator Thomas is as much a fighter for ordinary working families-- it's what she's based her entire career on-- as Barrow is a fighter for special interests and powerful corporations. After Obama gave Barrow the radio spot to use, Thomas had virtually no chance against him.
This morning Research 2000 released brand-new polling numbers on GA-12 that seem to show some serious trouble for Barrow. The congressman, as a way of appealing to conservative-leaning white voters, has been one of the least loyal Democrats in Congress to Obama's agenda. On substantive matters he has voted far more frequently with the GOP than with his own party. His ProgressivePunch score for the current House session is a dismal 31.71 (out of 100), identical to reactionaries like Chis Carney and Heath Shuler, both of whom, unlike Barrow, live in very Republican districts. (Carney's district's PVI is R +8.47 and Shuler's is R +6.27.)
Let's look how the 2010 primary is shaping up, where Barrow will likely be on his own-- with a very anti-family record to defend. He's probably going to be facing Regina Thomas again, and this time he's unlikely to have Obama running interference for him. Among GA-12 Democrats Obama has a 78% approval rating and an 18% disapproval. Barrow, on the other hand, is getting better known by his constituents-- and they don't like his record one bit. Among Democrats his approval rating is only 49% and his unfavorable rating is 33%.
Recall that Barrow was one of only 3 Blue Dogs who voted against health care reform on the House Energy and Commerce Committee-- reform that had been worked out by... the Blue Dogs! He's widely considered one of the worst bad-faith players in Congress, and voters back home are starting to recognize it. Among those voters back home, 77% of the district's Democrats favor Obama's health care plan and 47%, a plurality, disapprove of Barrow's actions on health care.
If the general election were held today, Barrow would probably lose; only 32% say they are prepared to vote for him again. But it's the primary where he will face his well-deserved political armageddon. Oh, and by the way, Democrats in GA-12 say they would be even less likely to vote for Barrow in 2010 if he opposes a public option, which he has already pledged to oppose.
Regina Thomas hasn't declared her candidacy yet. She's still talking it over with her family and friends and people in the district who have been urging her to run. Because she hasn't filed any FEC paperwork, ActBlue can't start a committee for her. However, we have the BadDogs page at Blue America, and rest assured, John Barrow will be a big priority there for 2010.