Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win Working Class Whites

Fresh off the smackdown laid upon them in Pennsylvania by Sen. Clinton yesterday, the Obama campaign's chief strategist David Axelrod talked with National Public Radio in which he had the following to say about the drubbing Obama took at the hands of white working class voters:

"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."

Click here to listen to the entire Axelrod interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep.

Just a little commentary here...

...I was always under the impression that Democrats were the Party of America's working families.

That's why we support America's labor community and that's why we support policies that benefit American's working families such as raising the minimum wage, passing the Family Medical & Leave Act, and expanding access to college.

But, according to the gospel of Axelrod, we can't count on America's working families in November...

...If that's what Barack and his campaign is cookin', then it stinks.

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)



Tips & Recs for America's Working Families...

...Regardless of their race.

by Andre Walker 2008-04-23 09:18AM | 0 recs
If they don't
they lose the election- plain and simple. Sorry dave, bad play.
by linc 2008-04-23 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: If they don't

he's giving a sneak preview of the GE if obama gets the nomination. dukakis, kerry, and gore didn't connect solidly with the democratic base either, and the election results speak for themselves.

by campskunk 2008-04-23 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: If they don't

do you think Hillary can win the white male vote over McCain?

by TruthMatters 2008-04-23 09:23AM | 0 recs
Re: If they don't

No.  She can however win the white female vote by huge margins that would offset the males.  Obama loses both.  

by BPK80 2008-04-23 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: If they don't

women work, too. they have for some time, i believe.

by campskunk 2008-04-23 09:42AM | 0 recs
Re: If they don't

The key is not the white working class (Clinton didn't win them, so your argument is off there)... they key is the unionized white working class... The union vote is where the Clinton camp should be pushing in this area.

They key demo coalition for Democratic wins are Union members, women, african americans and liberals.

by labor nrrd 2008-04-23 09:24AM | 0 recs
add Latinos
there will be no Democratic victory if we don't hold those groups and take Latinos as well.
by linc 2008-04-23 10:47AM | 0 recs
Axelrod: Dems Don't Win White Working Class

Is what he said true?

by venavena 2008-04-23 09:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Dems Don't Win White Working Class

Yes, particularly white men.  

by politicsmatters 2008-04-23 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White

And?  I know that we lose the white male working class consistently by over 20% (I think Kerry lost it by 23%).  I would assume that means we also lose the overall white working class vote election after election.

by rfahey22 2008-04-23 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White Working Cl

honestly I don't know though

is what he said true? anyone have the stats are is this a hit diary and we don't care about the truth?

by TruthMatters 2008-04-23 09:22AM | 0 recs
Axelrod working hard to become another Penn

by ann0nymous 2008-04-23 09:24AM | 0 recs

Clinton won the white working class in the 1990s and thats why he was president.  Hillary will do the same.  Obama can't.  Someone please save the Democratic party from nominating him.  He will lose to McCain.

by karajan72 2008-04-23 09:24AM | 0 recs

That someone would be the superdelegates.  It's the reason they exist, ya know...

by jarhead5536 2008-04-23 09:39AM | 0 recs
You are wrong

Clinton LOST the white working class vote. He won the black vote which is why he won.

Axelrod is exactly correct. Democrats don't win the racist white working class vote, they win the blue collar union vote, along with women and blacks and swing and independent voters.

Independent voters are not working class whites, they are suburban upper middle income whites.  That would be the group that Hillary is losing.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:16AM | 0 recs
Axelrod transforming into Penn

Although he may have some distance to go.

by ann0nymous 2008-04-23 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White Working Cl

OMG These folks really are living in fantasy land. Of course its not true, blue-collar white voters are the core constituents of the Democratic Party. This guy is out of touch with reality. HC supporters should play that podcast over and over again to working class voters, especially in Indiana. What a terrible blunder, and misquote.

by steve468 2008-04-23 09:25AM | 0 recs
You are ignorant

There is a difference between white working class voters and blue collar voters. A serious difference. It explains why Hillary LOST Wisconsin and would most likely lose Michigan as well in a general election.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Ok Smart Ass

Explain the difference since you seem to be an expert and authority on working class voters.

by steve468 2008-04-23 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White Working Cl

Um, statistically its true though Steve, I don't think we've won the white vote since 1964.

by Socraticsilence 2008-04-23 12:48PM | 0 recs
poorly timed comments!

I can't believe now they are dissing "white democrats"!!!  Is this another "typical white person" comment?  

Sore loser stuff is a non-starter.  Trying to say that Obama didn't win because of white people, is umm, both unfortunate and completely untrue.


by 4justice 2008-04-23 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: poorly timed comments!

That's not what he said.  

by politicsmatters 2008-04-23 09:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White Working Cl

What he said is true

In Gore v. Bush (Where Gore actually Won)...Gore lost the White Working Class by around 7%, hispanic and black working class pulled him up.  It is also worth noting that Working Class voters only make up 18% of the electorate - White ones drops that number to around 12% of the electorate.

Gore lost those attend religious service weekly 63-36.

by CardBoard 2008-04-23 09:28AM | 0 recs
What he said is true...

but it is also misleading.

Democrats have lost the white vote for ages.  Typically, a democrat can hope to get about 43% of the white vote (As I recall).  If the democrat gets more (and also gets the black vote, and a substantial fraction of the latino vote), then the democrat wins.  If he gets less than 43%, he/she loses.

So the real question is: by what margin will Sen. Obama lose the white vote in a matchup with Sen. McCain ?

by SevenStrings 2008-04-23 09:28AM | 0 recs
Re: What he said is true...

You are missing who the swing vote really is. INDEPENDENTS which Hillary can't win.  Who cares about the white working class voters. They are racists and had no intention of really voting for either one of our candidates in an election.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:19AM | 0 recs
All white working class voters are racists?

I'm not sure you should be making blanket statements like that.

by Andre Walker 2008-04-23 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: All white working class voters are racists?

It is a fact.  If you study presidential elections  you will see it is a fact. JFK didn't even win white working class voters.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:27AM | 0 recs
Can you provide some independently...

...Verified facts to back up your claim that A.) all white working class voters are racists; and B.) that no Democrat has won or will win white working class voters in the November General Election.

by Andre Walker 2008-04-23 10:30AM | 0 recs
That is an interesting way to put it =)

I would have said..

I am sure you should not be making blanket statemets like that =)

or something like

Are you out of your friggin mind.. making blanket statements like that.

but hey... I like the polite approach too =)

by SevenStrings 2008-04-23 10:32AM | 0 recs
darn you beat me to it
but seriously are you fucking kidding me? Is this what the Obama campaign has boiled down to? Not long ago Michael Barrone had wrote a opinion that Jerome cited which basically said that Obama's base is the liberal elite (academics, people with college education and higher, the 100k+ bracket and AA). His thrust was Obama does not appeal to the Jacksonians, the working class, blue-collared voters. Now I can safely say that from what Axelrod said Michael Barrone is correct. Think about it, now all anyone need to do is play this soundbite in an ad saying Obama does not really care for the votes of "working class white people".
But the bigger point is by saying such a thing Obama himself is boxing himself in a category, a candidate without broad appeal. This will bite us if he becomes the nominee. In today's WashPo a republican strategist had this to say:
The candidate of hope is morphing into an Ivy League scold, Ayres said -- and Republicans can hardly believe their fortune.
by tarheel74 2008-04-23 09:30AM | 0 recs
Re: darn you beat me to it

thank you Karnak for your insight for the future

/Do you have any lotto numbers I can us as well?

by clintonmccain 2008-04-23 09:33AM | 0 recs
Re: darn you beat me to it

aah the bitter Obama supporter clinging to Hillary hatred as his/her religion.

by tarheel74 2008-04-23 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: darn you beat me to it

haha oh man if only you knew how many times I defended that family when the Republicans were using the same tactics as you.

/Seriously Barrone?

by clintonmccain 2008-04-23 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: darn you beat me to it

seriously Axelrod echoing Barone? I agree couldn't be any worse.

by tarheel74 2008-04-23 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: darn you beat me to it

are you sure it's not you who is echoing Barone?

by clintonmccain 2008-04-23 10:29AM | 0 recs
Re: No Reagan Democrats Need Apply, David?

White working class voters voted Democratic regularly until Reagan.

But, since then, the GOP has managed to keep them solidly Republican. That will not be the case this time; white working class voters are looking for an invitation to come back to the Democrats. Axelrod just slammed the door on 'em.

Good work, David. Goodbye, White House.

This is the kind of thinking that has kept the "Reagan Democrats" in the Republican Party since Reagan.

Is this is an example of Obama's "hope" and "change?"

It looks like Obama's the status quo candidate to me. The status quo of Democrats giving the White House to the Republicans.

How pathetic!

by Tennessean 2008-04-23 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: No Reagan Democrats Need Apply, David?


They are looking for a reason to vote AGAINST a black man. They aren't coming back to the party, there is a reason why they are called former democrats.  

It's the suburban swing voters, stupid.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:20AM | 0 recs
Just not a smart thing to say

Wow, if he said this, this is just bad.  Just bad.

Here's the thing.  No one denies this.  The Democratic Party has not done well in recent history with the blue collar workers.  Once the labor issues of the 70's gave way to, well the destruction of labor in the 80's, Democrats have struggled.

But the reason isn't "Because it is so" as Axelrod seems to want to suggest.  The reason is that we haven't been able to articulate a strong enough economic message to convince them.  The reality is this (IMO).  The Democratic Party's economic message is the right one for the blue collar workers.

So why haven't they voted with us?  Because we haven't completed the sell.  In this cycle, though, we have had two of the best sellers that I can recall in Edwards and HRC.  HRC has been fabulous at selling an economic vision.  Even Obama supporters would have to begrudgingly agree on that.  She is, without a doubt, IMO, better than Bill in that regards.

This was a prime year for labor, for blue collar voice to be heard again.  Irrespective of the fall, the party needs to hear out those voices.  Irrespective of what happens, I hope, I urge, party leaders to sit down and figure out how to bridge the gap.  Because for once, we have blue collar sellers, and we have a shot at regaining a base that Republicans have effectively marginalized, partly due to their strategy, partly due to our candidates.

This election cycle, up AND down, needs to be on the future of this party.  It needs to be aware of the long term ramifications.  We cannot consistently win without reuniting the base that his been effectively splintered through the last couple decades.

by toonsterwu 2008-04-23 09:35AM | 0 recs
I agree. AND we haven't been able

to speak to their values.  That's why there's been such a push in the Democratic party to get involved in churches and to make our own strong religious and moral values part of the Democratic party identity.

Then along comes Rev. Wright and catapults us right back into the dark ages of "liberal godless anti-Americanism".    Obama could have prevented this by distancing himself from Wright a long time ago, or at least at the point he made the decision to run.

The fact that he didn't bother to distance himself from Wright suggests poor judgement, or arrogance, or both.  

by miker2008 2008-04-23 09:45AM | 0 recs
Wow, that's quite a turn-around

from the much ballyhooed "50-state strategy".  I thought that according to the Obama playbook it was the CLINTON campaign that was writing off democratic voters right and left, much to the party's detriment.  

Now he's writing off the Democratic base?   Democrats don't get elected without those people, and Axelrod is now neatly piloting the Obama ship right onto the very shoals that foundered Dukakis, Gore, and Kerry.   The northern intellectual thing.  

I detected this property in Obama's detached debating style from the very start, but got 'liberally' trounced for mentioning it on dkos.  Now it's becoming clear to a lot more people that Obama and his crew are too smart for ...  if not their own britches, then certainly the britches of the U.S. electorate.    

by miker2008 2008-04-23 09:36AM | 0 recs
I find it somewhat funny

That a lot of Obama supporters over at kos are arguing for the third rail being the economic disparity, and Axelrod essentially comes out and says this.

by toonsterwu 2008-04-23 09:37AM | 0 recs
Re: I find it somewhat funny

You don't understand the third rail. That's what is funny.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: I find it somewhat funny

No, I perfectly understand the third rail that kos is referencing, as I work on issues related to that.  That said, what I am referencing, is this argument from kos

"Obama now has an opportunity to run with the issue of class, the third rail of American politics. It'll drive the elite mad, whether in the political or media establishments. It'll make him relevant in a world where many Americans have been ignored and pandered to with bullshit social issues."

Axelrod is loosely suggesting that kos' argument isn't necessary.  Furthermore, let's look at kos' argument.  Obama has a chance to run on class.  And yet, in regards to issues of blue collar workers, the vote has leaned more often than not, towards HRC.

by toonsterwu 2008-04-23 11:08AM | 0 recs
Re: I find it somewhat funny

You are wrong. Blue collar voters have leaned towards Obama it is working class white voters who have not. There is a difference.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: I find it somewhat funny

All the data out there suggests that HRC has won a bigger portion of the blue collar vote, so I am curious

a)  What you are looking at?
b)  Are you arguing that white working class is not a part of blue collar?

by toonsterwu 2008-04-23 02:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win Working Class

So now who is talking about voters that don't count?

Oh the irony...

by jarhead5536 2008-04-23 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win White Working Cl

I just sent his podcast remarks to CNN News. What a great misquote this is.

by steve468 2008-04-23 09:40AM | 0 recs
Short term political impact?

I don't think this is going to play too well with the supers that are legitimately undeclared (as mrsuper argues, most have chosen a side, only a 100+ are legitimately undeclared).  I think a lot of the party feels energetic about our chances with the blue collar voters for once.

Whether or not this hurts Obama overall, I don't know.  But I don't think it will play well for politicians, and this is the sort of sound bite that could come back and really hurt Obama in a GE.

On a side note, I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Obama should not be going more negative.  This opens him up to negative attacks on him, and in general, this hurts him more.  Simply put, negatives are there for Hillary.  She's not changing them at this point.  But it's not likely to go up or down significantly.  For Obama, he's at huge risk here.  I still believe, for him, that the playing it safe route would still be more effective.  

by toonsterwu 2008-04-23 09:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Short term political impact?

The media is reporting this morning that he has already begun going negative in Indiana, with a flyer that was released there today.

by steve468 2008-04-23 09:46AM | 0 recs

So is this the next headline,

"Obama camp blames loss on White People."


Someone buy these guys a pair of metal boots so they can stop putting their feet in their mouth!

by BPK80 2008-04-23 09:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Democrats Don't Win Working Class Wh

What an idiotic comment by Axelrod.  This was a Democratic primary.  The vast majority of the people who voted, including "working class whites," are potentially Democratic voters for November.  It's legitimate to ask which candidate would bring out a greater segment of that swing constituency.

Are there millions of other working class whites out there who consistently vote Republican?  Of course there are.  Those people didn't vote in the Democratic Primary yesterday, and no one is talking about them.

The fact that so many Obama supporters appear to see some logic in what Axelrod said is very troubling to me.

by Steve M 2008-04-23 09:45AM | 0 recs
Democrats Don't Win Working Class Whites

Democrats who LOSE don't win working class whites.

Democrats who WIN do win working class whites.

What an idiot.

by DaveOinSF 2008-04-23 10:01AM | 0 recs
White Working Class vs. Blue Collar voters

There is a big difference and it would be to your benefit to understand that difference. It explains why Hillary loses Wisconsin and Michigan in general election polls.

by regina1983 2008-04-23 10:22AM | 0 recs
Another faux controversy

He didn't slam white working class people. He merely observed that the white working class - particularly men - has gone Republican for several elections. Clinton did not win white working class males. And I'm not sure Gore won white working class males OR females.

And if anybody is going to argue that Democrats DO rely "solely" on white working class voters then I will show you President Gephardt.

But keep playing GOP talking points and trying to make Obama into an elitist. What's next? Obama's a terrorist-sympathizing, Muslim, radical elitist secularist who hates patriotic red-blooded Americans? This site has turned into MyGOP.

by elrod 2008-04-23 10:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Another faux controversy

If this is Obama's best argument to the supers then hello nominee Clinton!  The point is you need to be competitive with the white working-class vote - Clinton brings that and Obama won't.

by mikes101 2008-04-23 10:16AM | 0 recs
Nice catch

To his credit, it is rare for Axelrod to misspeak so badly.  Although, the media is so preoccupied trying to explain how Barack secretly "won" last night that I don't think they will tag him with this.

by bobbank 2008-04-23 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Nice catch

LOL: Secretly won? I have heard it all now. BTW his blunder remark on NPR this morning has been sent off to both CNN and ABC News. Lets see if they pick up on this, I hope they do.

by steve468 2008-04-23 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod:

By the way Clinton won not because of all Reagan democrats he won in 92 and 96 because he carried Women Reagan Dems.  And as i recall Gore won the women's vote by 9 or 10%.  As my wife says when women vote democrats win.  This is the voting group that BO is doing poorly with and it is this group that upset with "what they consider a sexist campaign" against HRC.

And it really doesnt matter if BO supporters disagree with this the fact is these are the Reagan democrats that david alexrod is losing and unless BO starts connecting with these voters he will be toast.


by giusd 2008-04-23 10:50AM | 0 recs
If you are not happy, get out.

Obama & Axlrod should setup their own parties and run for POTUS if they are not happy with Democrats base.

by JoeySky18 2008-04-23 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Axelrod: Working Class Whites

Gee, if working class whites don't matter, then why did the Obama campaign outspend the Clinton campaign something like 3:1 in PA? Or is burning through millions in campaign contributions something they do just because they can?

Just asking.....

by ladywalker68 2008-04-23 12:27PM | 0 recs


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