Is Racism Driving Obama's Crappy Primary Showings? But columnists think that's a little too simplistic By John Johnson, Newser Staff Posted May 23, 2012 1:12 PM CDT 245 comments Comments President Obama speaks at a news conference in Chicago in this file photo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File) (Newser) – President Obama continued his lousy run last night in what Politico calls his "region of doom," a swath it defines as the "Upper South" that includes Appalachia. Obama's weak performances in Arkansas and Kentucky, of course, follow his close race against a felon in West Virginia. What gives? Two takes: Jay Cost, Weekly Standard: Liberals say it's racism, but that's "mostly partisan claptrap." The real reason has to do with how the Democratic Party has changed. It used to be "a working class coalition of urban workers and rural farmers" until it developed a "New Left ethos—turning decidedly leftward not only from cultural conservatism but also on middle class, quality of life issues (feminism, environmentalism, consumer rights, etc) that are of much more concern to 'enlightened' liberals in the big cities than rural voters in Arkansas." Full column here. Steve Kornacki, Salon: Chalking it up entirely to race "may be an oversimplification," although he notes that Obama fared miserably in the region in 2008 against Hillary Clinton. "Perhaps Obama’s race is one of several markers (along with his name, his background, and the never-ending Muslim rumors, his status as the 'liberal' candidate in 2008) that low-income white rural voters use to associate him with a national Democratic Party that they believe has been overrun by affluent liberals, feminists, minorities, secularists and gays—people and groups whose interests are being serviced at the expense of their own." Full column here.