Obama Stronger Among White Voters than Gore or Kerry

Remember all of the talk about Barack Obama's unique weakness among White voters? I noted the absurdity of this assertion earlier this month, but I thought it would be worth passing on a portion of professor Alan Abramowitz's analysis on the issue.


So does Barack Obama have a problem with white voters? The answer is a resounding "yes." And so has every other Democratic presidential candidate in the past forty years. The last Democratic candidate for president to win a majority of the white vote was Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Al Gore lost the white vote by 12 points in 2000. John Kerry lost the white vote by 17 points in 2004.
Based on five national polls that have been conducted this month -- Gallup, Newsweek, Quinnipiac, CBS/New York Times, and ABC/Washington Post -- Barack Obama is currently trailing John McCain by an average of nine points among white voters. So Obama is doing much better than John Kerry and a little better than Al Gore. In fact, the only Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades who have done better among white voters were Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. Not coincidentally, they were also the only successful Democratic presidential candidates in the past four decades. Based on his current showing in the polls, Barack Obama may well be the next one. With whites expected to comprise less than 80 percent of the 2008 electorate, and with a 20-1 margin among black voters and a 2-1 margin among Hispanic voters, Obama's current nine point deficit among white voters would translate into a decisive victory in November.
Shocking, no ... the numbers not lining up with the narrative pushed by a large segment of the punditry. Would it be better if Obama were able to secure a greater share of the White vote? Sure. But politics is about building coalitions, and there is no one single path to success that runs only through the support of White voters in America. Democrats can and repeatedly have secured pluralities and even majorities within the broader electorate even while carrying a minority of the White vote -- and, frankly, it seems more likely than not at this juncture that Obama will win in such a manner this year, too.

AlterNet is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by its writers are their own.
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