Obama Also Runs Even with Kerry Among White Voters
by Jonathan Singer, Thu May 08, 2008 at 11:05:48 AM EDT
So much for the notion that Barack Obama is uniquely weak among White voters. New Gallup polling puts that theory to rest as well.
Barack Obama's current level of support among white voters in a head-to-head matchup against John McCain is no worse than John Kerry's margin of support among whites against George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004, lost to the Republican Bush by a 51% to 48% margin in the popular vote. In Gallup Poll Daily tracking data from May 1-5, Obama is losing to McCain among registered voters by a 46% to 45% margin. Although there is a sizable component of undecideds in the Gallup Poll tracking data (and obviously no undecideds in the 2004 exit-poll data), the margins in these two races are quite similar, with Kerry losing by three points, and Obama by one point.
This overall comparison, in and of itself, suggests that Obama, assuming he captures the Democratic nomination, begins the general-election contest in roughly the same position in which Kerry ended his unsuccessful quest in 2004 -- that is, with the prospect of a very close race.
So at a point when Obama was getting hit as hard in the media (both paid and nonpartisan) as he ever has, attacked for his relationship with a neighbor (Bill Ayers) and his former pastor (Jeremiah Wright), Obama still runs about as well as did John Kerry, who only narrowly lost the last presidential election (give him 100,000 votes in Ohio or 100,000 spread across the Mountain West -- Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado -- and he would be in the White House today). For reference, Al Gore received 42 percent of the White vote in 2000, so Obama does not run too far behind him either.
Now it's worth pointing out that neither Kerry then nor Obama today ran or runs as well as the Democrats as a whole did in 2006. According to nationwide exit polling from the midterm House elections, Republicans only carried the White vote by a 51 percent to 47 percent margin. This is to say that there appear to be a whole lot of voters within this demographic who could find themselves amenable to voting Democratic in the fall if the party can figure out its key to success during the previous election. That said, the notion that Obama is a particularly weak candidate in regards to the White vote simply just does not play out in the data.