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    The current Republican Party is based upon a tribal appeal to the "white vote" as the only true Americans as they seek to have the white voter identify with them. When we Democrats talk about the national "white voter" as a single identity group, we are cooperating with a Republican meme. Starting with Republican apologists like Micheal Barone, Republicans have succeeded in planting this mode of analysis into the media. Additionally, a great deal of the certitude and morale of Republicans comes from being the largest part of the largest group in America.
     It is time to stop cooperating with this Republican meme, which encourages Republicans and puts Democrats at a disadvantage in the Midwest.

The recent Pew Poll is a robust poll of 3,151 voters. This allows meaningful crosstabs on a variety of issues, which Pew thankfully makes generally available.
    Earlier this year, Larry Bartels addressed the continuing fascination with the "decline" of the Democratic Party among the white working class. In “The Party of the American Working Man and Woman” he wrote:

(3) Overall, there has been no discernible trend in presidential voting behavior among the “working white working class.”

(4) While southern working whites without college degrees have become more Republican in their presidential voting behavior (by 4.5% per decade), non-southern working whites without college degrees have become more Democratic (by 1.6% per decade).

    With that in mind, let's look at the Pew data on the "white vote." Among likely white voters (2107), Obama does lose 39-54%. But what happens if we look at it regionally? The first thing that leaps out, is that white southerners are 35% of the white vote. And among southern whites, Obama does get creamed: only 27% support him. As a white southerner myself, I can confirm across broad regions of the South, support for Democrats has collapsed. That 27% is comparable to the support for Obama in Utah, or the support for Romney in the Hispanic community. Sure there are islands of support for Dems among whites, such as NOVA, various communities with universities, such as Austin or the triangle area of NC, just as Republicans have areas of Hispanic support, such as among Cubans or in Texas. But broadly just as there has been a group identification among Hispanics with Democrats, there has been a similar ID with group pressure among white southerners (which political scientists might refer to as "tribal").
   So what happens if you take southerners out of the mix. Obama's support among likely voters varies from 42-51 % among the other 3 regions and Romney's varies from 41-51 with Obama having 22 fewer net votes out of 1370, a difference of 1.6%. Since Obama has a higher lead among RV's it's likely he is tied among all non-southern white voters.
     Looked at this way, Democrats have their lead among several minorities, Hispanics, blacks, and Asians, and Republicans have their lead among one minority - white southerners - amounting to 27% of the LV population.


A final note: there are a lot of ways to slice and dice the "white vote" from the standpoint of voter analysis. Others likely have more explanatory power of how Democrats win and lose elections. See Tom Edsall's article in the NYTimes: White Working Chaos for a start to exploring the subject. But to counter the Republican meme of a threatened group of whites who are defending "real Americans" against the others, the southern/non-southern dichotomy is the broadest and most inclusive way of changing the frame.

PS for gauging Democratic prospects in states like VA and FL, the national white vote is probably a useful metric, since the white vote in those states probably reflect a blend of the southern outlook and the rest of the country.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I drove across Vermont today. (9+ / 0-)

    Judging by their signage, they sure love them some Bernie and Barack. Vermont is the perfect counter-example to the meme that Republicans automatically and overwhelmingly win the rural white vote.

    "Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." -Ralph Waldo Emerson "YEAAAAAAARGH!" -Howard Dean

    by AtomikNY on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 04:15:49 PM PST

  •  So, who's talking about the "White Vote"? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    I haven't read it here, unless in the context of an excerpt from a polling source, or, again, an excerpt from a source outside Kos.

    •  OK (0+ / 0-)

      Well, you may be right, except there was a main page diary comparing Obama shares of the white vote and how the election would come out and then testing the white vote in the Pew figures.
      Besides, frankly it was easier and shorter to write it from that angle. I took a short cut.
      Frankly, the overall national percentage of the white vote may not say that much outside of Florida, NC and VA.

  •  In a majority-minority country (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GDbot, leu2500

    That's going to be the way things are from now on.  In the meantime, yes, we have to change the frame to say "some" whites.

    It will be much easier to remind people that the Democratic-Republican shift in the South took place after 1965, when the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts had both been signed into law, and that the beleaguered whites are beleaguered because of their fathers' aversion to integration.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent, and we are all Wisconsin.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 04:20:30 PM PST

  •  The pockets you speak of - NOVA, Research Triangle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    etc. - I don't think it's just universities.  

    Those are also, I'm pretty sure, areas that are much less homogeniously southern.

    Like Huntsville, Al.  The saying is that no one is from here.  And that's fairly true.  An awful lot of transplants, and very few native Huntsvillians.  (I'm a transplant from the rust belt.)  But it is a defense town, which tempers that.  But still, one of 3 lighter red areas in a dark red state.  

    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 04:24:15 PM PST

  •  "real Americans" (0+ / 0-)

    That's a long, emotionally charged topic.
    America is evolving.
    It's like the finches as their food source changes grinding off their beaks because longer ones just aren't right. There's going to be trouble for the finches.

    -- We are just regular people informed on issues

    by mike101 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 04:35:45 PM PST

  •  Another meme to deep-six (4+ / 0-)

    the use of the term "working class" as code for "white racist".  It's both untrue and unfair.  First of all, contrary to the sly media meme, the working class is not at all some "whites only" club.  Quite the contrary, the working class is the most diverse, integrated and multicultural class in our society.  We're the ones most likely to live in integrated neighborhoods, we're the ones whose kids go to school together, we're the ones that work and play together, we're the ones most likely to marry and have kids together across racial lines.  Compare the working class neighborhoods of the cities and inner-ring suburbs with the monoculture of the middle/upper-middle-class of outer/upscale suburbia, which is the community that has chosen to segregate itself, which gets real estate agents to divert minority homebuyers away?

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 04:41:04 PM PST

  •  Iowa is going for Obama, and we are 90+% white. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    matrix, Dave in Northridge

    Obama leads in three of the four congressional districts too.

  •  As a Southern white male aged 50+ w/no college, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj24, montecristo

    I find the current Republican Party abhorrent and an affront to the country my American forbears fought to create.

    My apologies to pundits and pollsters.

    We've been wondering how to get through the clutter and reach low-information voters. Mitt haz it.

    by Crashing Vor on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 05:21:54 PM PST

  •  as abhorrent as the meme is, it's most true (0+ / 0-)

    of their attitude and perspective.

    Hey Mr Trump - so much for the ploy. Oh - and "The Dude" needs his rug back - it really tied the room together.

    by jj24 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 05:52:57 PM PST

  •  I really think part of the Democrat strategy (0+ / 0-)

    to regain the House is to paint the Republicans as the all Southern white party. We should focus on winning no-minority seats outside the south. When we do win in the South we get too many blue dogs who support the GOP agenda. Yes we have "good" Democrats in Virginia, BNorth Carolina, and Florida. Yes Austin and Houston give us hope. But the rest of the South unfortunately is really going to produce a good deal of bad.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 07:39:45 PM PST

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