Several Democratic gubernatorial candidates are running ads against their party's leader, President Barack Obama, and their nominee, Hillary Clinton — even as she appears headed for a landslide victory.
In fact, more than 97 percent of the gubernatorial TV ads mentioning the presidency are either anti-Obama, anti-Clinton or against them both, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Kantar Media/CMAG data from January 2015 through Oct. 24 of this year. Of course, that also includes plenty of ads from Republicans and conservative political groups who are slamming Obama and Clinton.
What stands out, though, are the Democrats who are distancing themselves from the standard bearers of their own party. In Montana, for example, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock cites Obama, but his presidential name dropping is not an attempt to ride a coattail. It’s intended to help him jump as far from Obama as possible.
“A lot of politicians treat coal like it’s a political game. But not Steve Bullock,” says a Montana coal worker in one of Bullock’s re-election ads that has been airing this fall. “As governor, he listened to us and stood up to President Obama to defend our coal jobs.”
So why the snubs when Obama enjoys favorable ratings from a majority of Americans and polls show Clinton leading Republican nominee Donald Trump? The answer is rooted in the country’s fractured political geography. While the national map tilts in Democrats’ favor this year, many of the 12 races for governor are taking place in Republican strongholds, such as West Virginia, Missouri and Montana.