Wednesday :: May 28, 2008

Evasions and Facts


by Turkana

It's hard to tell whether Markos is willfully dishonest or simply clueless, but his continual attempts to frame Obama's problems with white working-class voters as specific to Appalachia continue to be unsupportable and/or factually inaccurate. Last night, his post was about Obama's continued strength in Iowa, a state which is very white, and not very affluent. Of course, the poll he cited doesn't include an income breakdown, so it doesn't actually support his thesis. As a distraction from that fact, he points to Iowa's relatively low income rate, and generalizes. He ignores that Iowa has some large college towns, that college students and those who have recently graduated college tend to be low-income, without being working-class, and that they are one of the key demographic components to Obama's coalition. He ignores the possibility that Obama is losing Iowa's white working-class voters, while winning other demographics by huge margins.

In other words, Markos draws self-supportive conclusions without there being appropriate available supportive evidence. It's an ongoing pattern. Markos continually ignores anything at all positive about Clinton or her candidacy or negative about Obama or his. For example, Markos continually ignores recent polls showing Clinton doing much better than Obama against McCain in swing states. Even Markos's post on the new poll showing Mitch McConnell struggling in Kentucky lauded "the primary boost phenomenon," while somehow conveniently ignoring the fact that Clinton was responsible for that state's primary boost!

Over the weekend, Markos also touted the new Mason-Dixon poll out of Montana as suggestive that Obama's problems with white working-class voters are limited to Appalachia. One of his contributing editors has already made clear his own belief that the problem isn't with Obama, but with the voters. Which is a brilliant means of reaching out to such voters. And Jonathan Singer, at MyDD, then touted Markos's post, attempting to buttress it by pointing to Obama's big win in overwhelmingly white Oregon as further proof that only Appalachian white working-class voters are reticent to vote for Obama. Reality once again intrudes.

The CNN Exit Poll of Oregon shows something odd. While Obama won the state by 18 points, and won all income groups earning over $30,000 a year, Clinton actually won those making between $15,000-$30,000 a year. By a 54-45 margin. Those making less than $15,000 a year apparently were not polled. Furthermore, Clinton also won by a 53-46 margin those who had graduated high school but not attended college. Those who didn't graduate high school also were not polled. Now, I don't know how one defines white working-class, but in an overwhelmingly white state, lower income voters, and those who have not benefitted from higher education would seem to qualify. And Obama seems to have had a problem with them. In Oregon. Which is not anywhere near Appalachia.

As for the Montana poll, I wasn't able to find any internals, but the Billings Gazette article quoted by Markos includes the following:

In the 18 counties in Western Montana, Obama holds a commanding 62 percent to 25 percent lead over Clinton, the poll showed. These counties include Gallatin, Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Ravalli and Silver Bow.

Clinton leads Obama 47 percent to 40 percent in the 38 counties designated as Eastern Montana in the poll. These counties include Cascade and Yellowstone.

The possible significance?

As for Obama's strength in Western Montana, (Mason-Dixon Polling & Research managing director Brad) Coker said Obama does very well in university towns with college students and highly educated people.

But I'm sure those who do not live in university towns, or who are not college students or highly educated, and with whom Obama's doing less well, are all transplanted Appalachians.

Whether or not the Obamabots want to come to terms with it, the fact remains: white working-class voters are hesitant to vote for Obama. Some attribute this to racism. Without any hard evidence. I think it's due largely to the same reasons that the same demographics were hesitant to vote for Kerry and Gore. Which obviously was also due to racism. Or something. But ignoring the problem, or blaming the voters, or pretending an election can be won without this demographic is political suicide, even in a likely tsunami year. We can still sweep Congress and lose the White House. I'm hopeful that the actual Obama strategists are smarter than certain prominent bloggers. Because Obama can do much better with this demographic.

Big Tent Democrat thinks a unity ticket could be the key. Another key could be making the effort to convince white working-class voters that they actually have more in common with non-white working-class voters than they do with the upper income voters who are such a key component of the base of the Republican Party. The work Obama did in south Chicago speaks more to his ability to be of political benefit to white working-class voters than is anything McCain has ever done. Obama needs to make that case. He needs to talk economic issues, in depth, in detail. He needs to remind those key voters that the Democratic Party is the party of labor. This is not a demographic that Obama needs lose, and it's a demographic he can't afford to lose by the margins he has been losing it to Clinton. It's time for the Obama team to prove they are smarter than absurd bloggers, and begin to focus on winning this critical and winnable demographic.

Turkana :: 1:57 PM :: Comments (123) :: Digg It!