Patterico's Pontifications


Obama to abandon white working class?

Filed under: 2012 Election,General — Karl @ 12:37 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Not quite.  Slate’s resident JournoLister, Dave Weigel, apparently thinks it’s raaaacist of FoxNation to highlight the most provocative part of an NYT post by Thomas Edsall making the claim.  Weigel is particularly taken by a photo of “Obama gritting his teeth and waving ‘see ya,’ while flanked by his wife and an unidentified black guy.  Others might figure the photo was selected for the first part, not the second, but others don’t have a history of secretly trying to shape media coverage of Obamacare while pretending to be covering the right from the inside.  At least Weigel is imputing bad motive openly now.

The sad part is that Weigel kinda gets the real story right.  Here’s Edsall’s hot-button lede:

For decades, Democrats have suffered continuous and increasingly severe losses among white voters. But preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class.

The blogosphere is mostly focused on the second sentence.  Before casually flinging the race card, Weigel correctly emphasizes the first: “The funny thing here is that ‘abandoning’ the white working class means ‘continuing to lose voters who have been voting Republican since 1966.’ ”  It’s not clear whether Weigel is implicitly flinging the race card again by selecting 1966 as his benchmark, but between 1960 and 2004, Democrats lost 12 percent of the non-Southern white men and 17 percent of white men in the South.

Nevertheless, it is fair to note the drop was particularly acute (.pdf) among the white working class during the period colloquially known as the Sixties — 55% of whites without a four year college degree voted for Dems in 1960-64, dropping to 35% in 1968-72.  Some of this was racial, but arguably had more to do with the ascendancy of the New Left within the party, at the expense of organized labor.  The hippie/Yippie-ization of the Democrats, which allowed the GOP to characterize the 1972 platform as “amnesty, abortion and acid” had as much to do with the migration of whites to the GOP as Selma or Watts.

Edsall’s column doesn’t really support his claim that Team Obama is “explicitly” abandoning that demographic now.  Edsall is correct that the Obama campaign seems to be favoring:

a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment — professors, artists, designers, editors, human resources managers, lawyers, librarians, social workers, teachers and therapists — and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic.

Edsall then accurately traces the history of the “Emerging Democratic Majority” theory, and even gets this much right:

While demographic trends suggest the continued growth of pro-Democratic constituencies and the continued decline of core Republican voters, particularly married white Christians, there is no guarantee that demography is destiny.

Edsall just cannot bring himself to explain why, beyond a vague reference to GOP efforts to fracture the Democrat coalition.  The reason is the slow death of the progressive blue model under the weight of our expanding national debt.  That’s why the first part of the coalition Edsall describes identifies with the Occupy mob.  Tax reform that will likely be adopted to stave off the debt bomb will also hit the upper-middle class in Blue states harder than most.  The collapse of big government (and public sector pensions) will hit middle-class minorities hard as well.

In short, the white working class has been abandoning the Democrats long before Obama came on the scene.  They are just among the first off the sinking ship of progressivism.  Obama could end up above water in 2012, but the longer-term trend remains bleak, as progressivism ends up with less and less to offer the remains of its coalition.


Barney Frank Retires

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:26 am

[Posted by Karl]

Why? Jim Geraghty (and Jazz Shaw) note:

Following the 2010 census, Massachusetts is in line to lose one congressional seat, taking them from 10 to 9. Frank is more than seventy years old and could very likely have been looking at retirement in the not too distant future anyway, and this gives the state party an easy out in terms of carving up their redistricting map without the need for a nasty, internecine food fight.

Close, but probably not quite right, as WPRI’s Ted Nesi reports:

Part of Frank’s calculus may be the new boundaries of his 4th Congressional District drawn by Massachusetts’ redistricting panel.

The biggest change for Frank’s 4th District is the loss of New Bedford, a key Democratic stronghold, and the addition of a bunch of conservative-leaning communities in my old stomping grounds along the Rhode Island border, including Attleboro, North Attleboro, Plainville, and U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s hometown of Wrentham. That was going to be tough territory for Frank.

Indeed, Brown won Frank’s district before the lines were redrawn.  Frank won in 2010 with 55% of the vote — but that was his worst showing since 1980, when he was first elected.  Of the many bad things I could say about Frank, he’s not dumb when it comes to politics, which is why he now shuffles off to some quasi-private sector gig, likely a lucrative one.

Update:  Frank basically confirms the theory presented here.


Team Obama Gears Up for 2012

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 8:06 am

[Posted by Karl]

From Sunday’s NYT, a tale of the New South:

AS North Carolina Republicans tell it, the Obama for America volunteers stole in under cover of night and stayed, undetected — noticed belatedly only because of election results across the state.

“It was very scary,” said Chris Sinclair, a strategist for Billie Redmond, the Republican candidate for mayor in Raleigh. “You don’t know what’s going on until you wake up after Election Day and go, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened?’ ”

What happened was that candidates supported by Democrats trounced Republicans in the Raleigh and Charlotte mayoral races this fall, and even wrested control of the Wake County school board from Republicans associated with the Tea Party.

It was only after the damage was done that local party leaders learned of the hidden hand of thousands of Obama for America volunteers and staff members. Never publicizing their work, they went door-to-door across the state, successfully getting their voters out to the polls in a highly effective dry run for 2012.

However, the NYT’s Jim Rutenberg then cannot help but get distracted reporting on 2012 campaign messaging and such.  You have to read almost to the end to get back to Team Obama’s organizational efforts.  For example, in Charlotte, incumbent Democrat Mayor Anthony Foxx made ten times the number of phone calls as his GOP challenger.  To put this in context, Foxx, the first Dem elected mayor since 1987, won 51.5% of the vote in 2009 and should have been vulnerable in an off-year environment.

Team Obama, led by a former community organizer, has reason to put stock in organization.  They beat Hillary Clinton for the 2008 nomination in part by out-organizing her McGovern-style.  In the general election, they blanketed battleground states with field offices, which likely contributed 53 of Obama’s 95  electoral vote margin in 2008.  It is not surprising (if ironic) that in a tougher political environment, they would look to Karl Rove’s 2004 turnout-based strategy for hope.  However, Rove found out the hard way in 2006 that GOTV efforts have their limits

The GOP (and the right more broadly) will be upping its GOTV game for next year.  Obama has to hope the fundamentals don’t continue to sour on him the way they did for his predecessor.  Nevertheless, the tale of OfA in the New South should be a cautionary one for the GOP.


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