Saw one ghost, missed another

A 1409 ssThe general public may be tuned out, for the most part, but for political primates here inside the DC Beltway, the national political conventions remain The Shows, a kind of crazy cross between the Olympics and reality TV. So you know that today's special Democratic National Convention section of the Washington Post had to include a feature with this kind of headline -- "8 Questions About the Convention."

Eight? Why not 10? Nevermind.

Since this is GetReligion, and Democrats trying to close the God Gap is the official story of this political year, you know that at least one of the Post questions had to have a religion angle. One news angle falls into the "duh" category.

This particular question from Dan Balz is:

Which voters will Obama have most in mind when he speaks on Thursday?

The second half of the answer is simple enough:

John Feehery, a Republican strategist, said Obama's target should be Roman Catholics. A Clinton loyalist suggested "those 18 million Democratic primary voters who voted for someone else." Democrat Devine said the target of Obama's speech should be women, particularly those without college degrees.

OK, OK, we know that one of the three or four basic Catholic voter groups is going to be important. But you can tell that the Post is really focusing on something else, a combination of religion and social class. This is really obvious when you read the section of this chunk of text that I skipped over.

Only this time, the religion element is not stated openly, or, well, at all. To whom shold Obama preach?

This isn't a close call, judging from the responses of strategists in both parties. The No. 1 target for Obama, they say, should be working-class white voters, whom he struggled to attract against Clinton in the primaries. Certainly there are a variety of constituencies Obama might have in mind: independent voters, who could hold the key to victory this year; Latinos, whose support will be critical in deciding the outcome; young voters, whom Obama needs in big numbers in November; women, because they are the backbone of the Democratic coalition.

But given the obvious weakness he displayed in the primaries and because the economy now is the dominant issue in the minds of voters, there's a sense among strategists outside Obama's campaign that he needs to focus like a laser on the insecurities and anxieties of the working class and middle class.

"I'd be thinking about a 50-year-old man or woman who is not a college graduate, with kids who are struggling to get started on their own and with the first grandchild on the way," said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster who was co-chief strategist of Clinton's campaign in its closing months.

In other words, he needs crucial elements of the old Democratic Party coalition, which would be blue-collar evangelicals in the South and Midwest, as well as traditional, labor-family Catholics.

So, what happened to those voters, anyway? Why are they in play? That would have been a nice detail to include in this long-ish story. Let me recommend a fine book containing many of the details. Click here to check it out. It's by that Mark Stricherz fellow.

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