Thursday, May 15, 2008

Obama, Appalachia and Working Class Whites

Does Barack Obama have a problem with working class whites? Greg Sargeant of TPM Election Central points out the latest Quinnipiac poll has McCain leading both Obama and Clinton by 7 points among working class whites, meaning non-college educated whites. In this category, McCain leads Obama by 46 to 39 percent and Clinton by 48 to 41 percent.
Not surprisingly, the poll shows significant difference between Clinton and Obama among younger voters. Obama leads McCain among voters 18 to 44 by 52 to 37 percent, while Clinton leads by only 46 to 43 percent.
Jonathon Tilove of Newhouse News Service is among those who see the West Virginia result as indicative of Obama's weakness in Appalachia, not among whites nationwide:
For those keeping score, seven of the 10 whitest states in the nation have held their primaries or caucuses. The Illinois senator has won five and the New York senator two - New Hampshire by an inch and now West Virginia by a country mile.
As for whether Appalachia poses a problem for Democrats in the fall, neither Clinton nor Obama comes even close in polling in Tennessee, Kentucky or West Virginia. West Virginia may have voted for Democrats in the past, but the electoral map looks a bit different with Obama as the nominee. Polls show states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and even Indiana are in play in the general election. Michigan and Ohio look tough for either Democrat this fall, which may be why the well-timed John Edwards endorsement was announced in Grand Rapids.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

This has been my assumption. It is good to see it borne out with some data.

6:30 AM, May 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a big difference between votes cast in a primary and votes cast in a general election. Many of these white, blue-collar voters are registered Democrats because of local office holders who, while being Dixiecrats, still cling to the old party names. These people don't vote for Democratic presidents in November. They are not ours and they never have been. They will track as far right as they can in November and that means they will vote for McCain, regardless of who we nominate.

I hate ceding any race but there are some you've simply got to recognize as lost before you start. Obama didn't spend much time in West Virginia because he understood the dynamics there. It will be even worse in November. That's a given.

Thankfully Obama is forming a strong enough coalition in the rest of the nation to overcome the pockets of history's resistors in Applachia. It will take dragging, kicking and screaming, to bring these people into the twenty first century of America. I believe Obama is the man for the job.

10:25 AM, May 16, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, polling in West Virginia has McCain beating Obama, and Clinton beating McCain. http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2008/Clinton/Maps/May19.html The issue will be how do blue collar voters in Ohio, Michigan, PA, Florida vote. You see a lot of comments about 4-8 southern states in play. We'll see in November. But what's the majic number of bleed off from Clinton supporters voting for McCain in key states that could cost the Dems the election. Exit polling in those states do not look good with close to 50% saying they won't vote or will vote for McCain.

9:13 AM, May 19, 2008  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

The Electoral College map you cite places a state in one column or another based on the most recent poll, even if that poll shows just a one point margin (as in Michigan). I prefer those that include a category of tossup states where recent polls are split or show one candidate ahead by less than the margin of error. (I've built my own model along these lines.)

As for the exit polls, the numbers showing supporters of one candidate not voting for the other are vastly inflated by the heat of the moment. The effect wears off fairly quickly. If these exit polls showing nearly half of Clinton supporters refusing to vote for Obama were accurate, we would see Obama stuck below 40 percent, instead of leading McCain, which he has done in almost every national poll over the last two weeks.

9:42 AM, May 19, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The website I refer to is one of, if not the most accurate electoral college map there is. It's a combination of polls that are cited, not just one. It is remarkably accurate. The site also does not call "dead heat" states even though they are shaded a particular color.

Today, Clinton beats McCain 284 to 237 by carrying FLA, PA and Ohio. Obama loses to McCain 285-242 by carryiong PA and losing close races in those southern states that are now "in play."

My point is about the bleed off of Clinton voters is there will be an impact. Those are centrist voters (or some less complimentary names some are calling them). They won't vote for a liberal, they'll vote McCain, which is worse than staying home. At what point does this bleed off compromise Obama's chances, particularly in battleground states you must win to have a shot at the White House. Ten to 20 percent could cost him the election, which is my fear.

3:45 PM, May 19, 2008  

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