By Josh Lederman and Emily Goodin
The Hill, Ballot Box blog
Four in ten Democratic voters chose someone other than President Obama on Tuesday in primaries in Arkansas and Kentucky.
In Arkansas, John Wolfe — a perennial, long-shot candidate — took 41 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, with 71 percent of precincts reporting. Obama came in just under 60 percent. The Associated Press did not call the race for Obama until close to midnight.
And in Kentucky, 42 percent of Democrats chose “uncommitted” rather than cast a vote for the incumbent president. Obama took 58 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
With turnout low, Obama did get more total votes than presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who won his primary with almost 67 percent of the vote. Obama had more than 118,600 votes to about 117,100 for Romney.
Obama’s nomination for a second term by the Democratic Party has never been in danger. But the large number of defections is bad optics for Obama, highlighting widespread discontent with his administration among Democrats who come from conservative states.
A felon incarcerated in Texas took 41 percent of the vote from the president when Democrats in West Virginia cast ballots in the primary earlier in May.
The results in both Kentucky and Arkansas were not unexpected; both are solid red states. In 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) won Kentucky with 58 percent and Arkansas with 59 percent.