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Obama Barely Ekes Out Wins in Arkansas, Kentucky

Nabs 60% of the vote or less in latest primaries
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2012 6:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – He's already clinched the Democratic nomination, but President Obama's performance in last night's primaries wasn't exactly definitive: In Arkansas, he was opposed by a Tennessee lawyer who claimed 40% of the vote to Obama's 60%; in Kentucky, Obama won almost 58% of the vote but another 42% voted "uncommitted." (Mitt Romney fared better, but still not all that well, in the two primaries, Politico notes.) John Wolfe, Obama's Arkansas opponent, was also on the ballot in the Louisiana, Missouri, and New Hampshire primaries, and will be on Texas' ballot as well. Obama had a similar experience in West Virginia, where a convicted felon won 41% of the vote against him.

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Some assume Obama has struggled in Appalachia and the South due to racist voters, but exit polls suggest the opposition to the president has more to do with his policies, the Washington Post notes. So far in this election, Obama has averaged 84.6% of the vote in states where voters were offered an alternative (even if that alternative was a write-in option or "uncommitted"). In states where he's run against an actual named opponent, that average drops to 72.7%. And it's not all Republican-leaning states: In New Hampshire and North Carolina, other candidates took 18% and 20% of the votes, respectively. (Read more Election 2012 stories.)

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