Obama Strongest Dem Among White Voters Since Carter
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Oct 25, 2008 at 12:21:13 PM EDT
We have known for a long while that Barack Obama is on track to peform more strongly among white voters than either John Kerry or Al Gore. Now a new crunching of numbers indicates that Obama may run the strongest within this demographic of any Democrat since Jimmy Carter.
Barack Obama, the first black major party nominee, is positioned to win the largest share of white voters of any Democrat in more than three decades, according to an exclusive Politico analysis of recent Gallup and Pew Research Center polling.
The most recent two weeks of Gallup polling, which includes roughly 13,000 interviews, show 44 percent of non-Hispanic white voters presently support Obama -- the highest number for a Democrat since 47 percent of whites backed Jimmy Carter in 1976.
No Democrat has won a majority of white voters since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. John McCain has shuffled between 48 percent and 50 percent support in recent weeks -- which would be the lowest share for a Republican candidate in a two-man race since Barry Goldwater's run.
A Politico breakdown of the Pew polling shows dramatic improvement for Obama among whites since early September on the question of who would do a better job "improving the economy." White women, who last month were split, now believe Obama will do a better job "improving the economy" by a 49 to 35 percent margin. White men, who had favored McCain by 10 points, are now split with 41 percent preferring Obama and 43 percent McCain.
The growth in Obama's share of the white vote cannot be divorced from the growth in his share of the vote of the entire electorate, so the fact that, if the polling holds, Obama would be the first Democrat in 32 years to earn a majority of the popular vote makes it unsurprising that Obama would perform the best of any Democrat among white voters in that same time span. Nevertheless, there was an awful lot of squawking about whether or not Obama could earn the support of white voters -- squawking that at the time I argued was without base -- and these numbers ought to help put that to rest.