The White Working Class: The Group That Will Likely Decide Obama’s Fate
Each election cycle there occurs a tired ritual, in which pundits and reporters rediscover that yes, indeed, there are still a lot of white working class voters in America, and they represent a serious vulnerability for the Democrats. But just this once, let’s skip the period where everyone initially ignores this group and cut straight to the chase: There will be a lot of white working class voters showing up at the polls next November, and the degree to which they support (or abandon) President Obama could very well make or break his reelection.
In 2008, during his otherwise-solid election victory, Obama lost the white working class vote by 18 points. In 2010, however, things got much worse: Congressional Democrats’ experienced a catastrophic 30 point deficit among the same group. While the first number is a figure Obama could live with repeating, the second could very well prove fatal.
But how likely is such a white working class surge toward the GOP in 2012? From the standpoint of Obama and the Democrats, scarily so. It’s important to remember that this is the group that has been the bulwark of every GOP victory going back to Richard Nixon in 1968. And it is the group recently termed by journalist Ronald Brownstein as, “[T]he most pessimistic group in America.” In a recent Pew Economic Mobility Project poll, only one-third of working class whites thought today’s children would live better than they do, far below the levels of confidence expressed by minorities and college-educated whites. And in a recent National Journal poll, only a third of white working class voters took a positive view of recent Census findings on the country’s fast growing minority population, with 58 percent endorsing instead the pessimistic view that these trends are “happening too quickly,” and undermining fundamental American values at a time of high unemployment.
Read the full article at tnr.com.
- Economic Mobility Project