by Jerome Armstrong, Wed Apr 23, 2008 at 02:01:51 PM EDT
"The white working class has gone to the Republican nominee for many elections, going back even to the Clinton years. This is not new that Democratic candidates don't rely solely on those votes."
That's David Axelrod on NPR this morning, explaining why Obama lost Pennsylvania; and implying that Obama would not do much better in the GE with white lower-income workers.
And Axelrod might as well include that this happens to coincide with the fact that only 1 Democratic Presidential candidate has gotten a fraction above 50 percent in the GE since 1964, that's 44 years ago.
Do you think the two are connected?
This leads into the discussion over on TNR, John Judis asks whether Obama is The Next McGovern and Jonathan Chait, Contra Judis, says no. I've noticed exactly what Judis is talking about here. Obama still has the young and African-American voter coalition going on, but his base beyond that seems to have shifted over the course of the primary.
Its ideology is very liberal. Whereas in the first primaries and caucuses, Obama benefited from being seen as middle-of-the-road or even conservative, he is now receiving his strongest support from voters who see themselves as "very liberal." In Pennsylvania, he defeated Clinton among "very liberal" voters by 55 to 45 percent, but lost "somewhat conservative" voters by 53 to 47 percent and moderates by 60 to 40 percent. In Wisconsin and Virginia, by contrast, he had done best against Clinton among voters who saw themselves as moderate or somewhat conservative.
Obama even seems to be acquiring the religious profile of the old McGovern coalition. In the early primaries and caucuses, Obama did very well among the observant. In Maryland, he defeated Clinton among those who attended religious services weekly by 61 to 31 percent. By contrast, in Pennsylvania, he lost to Clinton among these voters by 58 to 42 percent and did best among voters who never attend religious services, winning them by 56 to 44 percent. There is nothing wrong with winning over voters who are very liberal and who never attend religious services; but if they begin to become Obama's most fervent base of support, he will have trouble (to say the least) in November.
First, that going "from primary dynamics to general election dynamics" is problematic. That's true to a point, but also misses the appeal of Clinton over Obama and McCain over Obama, that's been shown of these voters in multiple recent polls. It's reflective of another shift that's happened. It used the be that Obama bragged about how Clinton wouldn't be able to win the voters that appealed to Obama. That's not the case any longer, with Obama having taken the McGovern coalition as his base.
Second, the point that Judis and Teixeira's book TEDM "argues that the elements of the McGovern coalition have expanded to the point where they can form the base of a political majority." True, but that's been obvious since 2000. That's the base, but it skips past that its "not as a model of how to win presidential elections". This leads back to the first question, as to where, beyond the base, a candidate has appeal and can bring in votes.
Third, "compared to what?" asks Chait. Well, going by the national polls of registered voters, it is true that Obama does better than Clinton by .9 percent (can I call that 1%?) over McCain. So what, ask Al Gore. A look at the state polls reveals the trouble.
The Obama map shows big problems in Florida and Ohio, and most of the midwest region. In fact, if Obama doesn't have the states of Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico to contend for (see Obama's previous positions on gun control for potential trouble), it becomes a very difficult map. Clinton's map is stronger, taking Florida and Ohio over McCain.
Obama had much more potential with the base that he came out of Iowa with, which included evangelical white voters. Its that element which he seems to have lost, probably due to Wright. It's been subtle, but his voting coalition has moved away from that group and toward the 'secular warrior' voters, while keeping the youth and African American base.