Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Barack Obama, the Crossover Vote, and the White Working Class

Republican John Weiler, the winner of MoveOn's "Obama in 30 Seconds" contest, endorses Barack Obama in the video:

I don't see how any Republican could endorse Obama, but it turns out there are quite a few, including some of high prominence:

Susan Eisenhower is more than just another disappointed Republican. She is also Ike's granddaughter and a dedicated member of the party who has urged her fellow Republicans in the past to stick with the GOP. But now Eisenhower, who runs an international consulting firm, is endorsing Barack Obama. She has no plans to officially leave the Republican Party. But in Eisenhower's view, Obama is the only candidate who can build a national consensus on the issues most important to her—energy, global warming, an aging population and America's standing in the world....

Eisenhower is one of a small but symbolically powerful group of what Obama recently called "Obamacans"—disaffected Republicans who have drifted away from their party just as Eisenhower Democrats did and, more recently, Reagan Democrats in the 1980s.
So apparently MoveOn, in selecting Weiler's story - from a selection over 1100 submissions - sees this message as a chance to capture a large crossover vote in the fall, not unlike the "Reagan Democrats" from the 1980s.

I'm skeptical of the strategy frankly, considering Obama's dramatic weakness with conservative white working class voters, many of whom may have registered or voted GOP in recent elections.

I'm particulary unimpressed with Weiler himself. Perhaps he's suffering from BDS, but Weiler ought to realize that Obama's turning out to be even more lightweight on foreign policy than was suspected.

As Captain Ed notes, with reference to Obama's gaffes yesterday on Afganistan and Iraq:

Obama’s rhetoric calls into question whether he has any real knowledge of the issues in either Iraq or Afghanistan in any depth beyond that of the latest MoveOn talking points.
Note something too:
Gallup today reports that Obama essentially ties John McCain in attracting political independents, but he's having a harder time keeping Democratic partisans in his column:

Each candidate wins the vast majority of votes from his own party, with Obama currently holding a 76% to 15% edge over McCain among Democratic registered voters and McCain leading Obama by 84% to 12% among Republican registered voters.

The candidates' own party support has been very stable thus far this year, with Obama's share of the Democratic vote ranging from 73% to 76% since mid-March and McCain's share of the GOP vote between 84% and 87%.

Obama is able to hold his own against McCain despite receiving less support from his fellow partisans because significantly more Americans currently identify as Democrats than as Republicans.

Independents are usually one of the most closely watched swing voter groups each presidential election. However, contrary to expectations, they are not always decisive, in part because turnout among independents is usually lower than it is among those with a political party affiliation....

It would seem more critical that McCain prevail among independents in order for him to win the November election, given the deficit in
Republican identification and voting enthusiasm to the Democrats.
Barack Obama appears vulnerable to me.

While MoveOn's angling to attract crossover Republicans with ads like the one above, the immediate challenge for Obama will be in winning over the vast bulk of Middle American conservatives from his own party, many of whom have been voting for Hillary Clinton in high and increasing numbers.

See also, the New York Times, "After Big Loss, Obama Woos Blue-Collar Voters."