Last Saturday, I asked a question about the premise of Newsweek's polling piece titled "The White Stuff." They were saying that Obama was having trouble with working class whites, etc--same old story. But when I looked at exit polls from 2004, it seemed to me that Obama was doing okay with those very demographics Newsweek was bemoaning.
Not being a pollster, I was a little hesitant about reading too much into that, but Mark Mellman has no such hesitation:
Democrats running for president have been losing white, non-college-educated voters since before Mr. Obama was elected to the Illinois legislature. Al Gore and Mr. Kerry each failed to win a majority of this bloc in the general election. With these voters, the size of the losing margin is what matters.He also notes that primary results don't predict general election performance, which leads me to believe that party affiliation is a much stronger predictor than the individual candidate's popularity with a group. Regardless, it's good to know that I'm not alone in thinking this way.
Mr. Gore lost them by 17 percentage points while winning the national popular vote. Mr. Kerry lost them by 23 points and the country by fewer than two and a half points. The last Democrat to win white, non-college voters was Bill Clinton, who carried them by a single point in the three-way races in 1992 and 1996.
By comparison, Mr. Obama is only two percentage points behind John McCain among these voters in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. Another recent survey shows him down seven points.
In other words, Mr. Obama is faring better today with the white working class than did either Mr. Gore or Mr. Kerry.