Monday, March 17, 2008

White Men Emerge as Key Voting Constituency

Will this election be remembered as "The Year of the Man," or the white man, to be more specific?

It could be.

In a campaign season increasingly dominated by hard-left identity political and anti-patriotic demonization of the United States, the political dynamics of the election have shifted attention to the role of white male voters, who could end up being a key constituency supporting Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party's upcoming primaries.

The Washington Post has
the story:

In the fierce campaign between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, a battle dominated by questions of race and gender, white men have emerged as perhaps the single critical swing constituency.

The competition for the support of white men, particularly those defined as working class, will shape the showdown between Clinton and Obama in Pennsylvania's Democratic presidential primary on April 22. Obama (Ill.) won majorities among those voters in what appeared to be breakthrough victories in Wisconsin and Virginia last month. But he badly lost working-class white men to Clinton (N.Y.) in Ohio and Texas two weeks ago, keeping the outcome of the Democratic race in doubt indefinitely.

The results in Ohio in particular raised questions about whether Obama can attract support from this crucial demographic. They also brought to the forefront the question of whether racial prejudice would be a barrier to his candidacy in some of the major industrial battlegrounds in the general election if he becomes the Democratic nominee.

An examination of exit polls in Wisconsin and Ohio, states with striking similarities, shows that many more working-class white men in Ohio said race was a factor in their vote on March 4 than was the case in Wisconsin. The analysis makes clear that race was not the deciding factor in the Ohio primary but did contribute to Clinton's margin of victory.

In the past week, racial issues have dominated the campaign dialogue. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro was forced to quit the Clinton campaign after her comments about Obama and race brought sharp criticism from the senator and his allies.

On Friday, Obama had to distance himself from his spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., former pastor of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ, over statements widely viewed as being anti-American. Obama has been a member of the church for two decades.

Obama's advisers have sought to play down the idea that racial prejudice was a major factor in Clinton's victory in Ohio. They suggest that Obama's poor performance among working-class white men reflects broader generational divisions that have marked the Democratic race.

David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama, said he is uncertain how concerned the campaign should be about the influence of race on working-class white voters. "It bears some closer examination," he said. "I think for older voters, it's more of a leap than for younger voters. But I don't think it's an insuperable barrier."

Obama has sought to transcend race in his campaign, and found considerable success in that pursuit in many states. Racial divisions have shown up in Southern states, as they did last Tuesday in Mississippi and earlier in Alabama. In both primaries, Obama overwhelmingly carried the black vote and Clinton overwhelmingly carried the white vote. But in smaller states outside the South -- such as Iowa, Kansas and Utah -- where there are far fewer minorities, Obama has done extremely well with white voters.
The implications of these trends go beyond the Democratic Party.

Zogby's recent poll showing John McCain leading possible dead-head matchups in the general election, the data indicate that McCain runs strong against Obama in generic mathcups and with the male demographic:

An interesting factor in this race: the inroads McCain has made into Obama’s base and vice versa. McCain wins 19% support from Democrats, while Obama captures just 67% of voters in his own party. Obama wins 15% support among Republicans, compared to 73% for McCain....

Among men, McCain leads Obama 48% to 34%, while Obama holds a slim 43% to 41% edge over McCain among women.
White Americans are more likely to vote than ethnic minorities, so, depending on the nature of the fall campaign itself, the same trends that may help Hillary Clinton in April, could bolster the GOP ticket in the fall, with either a woman or a black as the Democratic nominee.