'American Skin' (41 Points) -- Why West Virginia Matters

FROM GUEST-BLOGGER RICK KLEIN:

Hi gang -- Rick Klein here from ABC's The Note, filling in through the end of the week for my colleague Jake Tapper, who is on a much-deserved vacation. (I know, none of us thought he took vacations, either.)

If you're not familiar with The Note, first of all, you should be, and second of all, here's an introduction.

Today we round up where things stand the morning after an Obama drubbing -- a 41-point shellacking in  West Virginia. Obama has lost before (though rarely by this much), but what makes this different is  that this contest came a week AFTER the mainstream media declared this race over, done, and finished. 

Democrats were told for seven solid days that it was just a matter of time before Clinton bowed to  the inevitable, and two-thirds of Democratic voters in a swing state just looked at Obama and said  thanks, but no thanks.

The pre- and post-contest spin from the Obama campaign has been about the math: That this is too  little, too late from Clinton to make a difference in the nominating contest. They're probably right  -- the math is quite stubborn, as the ABC political unit points out this morning

But it seems like leaving the response there ignores the real lessons of West Virginia. Yes, the  Clinton brand remains powerful in places like West Virginia in particular -- yet the Obama brand has  become a force in its own right. Yes, some voters are racists -- but that doesn't fully explain a 41-point margin.

The fact is that working-class voters (and yes, primarily the white ones) aren't hearing something in what Barack Obama is saying. The campaign can pretend like this isn't a problem, but if it's not a problem now, if will be in the fall. There are signs that, public pronouncements aside, the Obama campaign gets this -- it's one reason Obama is in Michigan today. He may have this locked down, but his hard work is just beginning.

-- Rick Klein

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