Skip to comments.Obama's Last Line of Defense
Posted on 05/27/2012 12:24:27 PM PDT by neverdem
The new round of national and state surveys this week generally showing President Obama clinging to a tenuous advantage over Republican Mitt Romney reinforce the conclusion that socially liberal, upscale white women may stand as the president's indispensable line of defense in his struggle for reelection.
Both the national ABC/Washington Post survey released earlier this week, and the NBC/Marist Polls released Thursday in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida show Obama retaining preponderant support among minority voters who were critical to his 2008 victory. Conversely, in almost all of the surveys, Obama faces a consistent pattern of erosion from his already meager 2008 levels of support among whites without a college education.
In both the national and battleground polls, college-educated white voters loom as a more conflicted and contested group-with Obama generally struggling among the men, but maintaining his support among the women better than many Democratic candidates did in the 2010 GOP Congressional landslide. Combined with Obama's minority support, that was enough to keep him ahead of Romney in all four of these national and state surveys-though not quite enough in any case to push the president past the 50 percent marker that allows incumbents to sleep better. "I think those women are pretty solid," says Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who is advising a pro-Obama Super PAC. "Of all the things that keep me up at night, they are at the bottom of the list."
Different strategists focus on different fissures in the electorate (particularly the white electorate) when explaining the coalitions of support aligning behind the two parties. Some emphasize marital status, noting that single women vote much more heavily Democratic than married women. (In 2008, Obama won almost three-fifths of white single women and lost almost three-fifths of white married women, according to the exit polls.) Others stress age, noting that Democrats now usually run better with younger than older white voters. Among whites, the frequency of church attendance is now also a more powerful predictor of voting behavior than income.
Yet education levels have also proved a consistent thread in the shifting pattern of each party's support. In each of the past three elections, the Democratic nominee has performed better among white voters with a college education than white voters without one, reversing the pattern evident from at least the 1940s through the 1980s. And in every election since 1988, the Democratic nominee has performed better among college-educated white women than among any of the other three elements of the white education and gender quadrant: white men with a college degree, and white men and women without one. Along with the growing minority population, which comprised 26 percent of the 2008 vote, those women (who cast just under 18 percent of the ballots last time) have emerged as a pillar of the Democratic coalition. These women look especially critical to Obama's hopes this time because of the consistent signs that he's losing ground among other whites, especially those without college degrees.
The new surveys underscore the durability of Obama's strength with minority voters. In 2008, according to exit polls, Obama won a cumulative 80 percent of the vote among all non-white voters. The new surveys show him continuing to perform in that range. In this week's ABC/Washington Post survey, Obama led Romney among all non-white respondents by a margin of 77 percent to 19 percent, virtually unchanged from April. According to data provided by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion's Lee Miringoff and Stephanie Calvano, Obama drew 84 percent of non-white voters in Ohio and 74 percent in Virginia; in Florida, where NBC/Marist reported the results separately, Obama lead 89 percent to 5 percent among African-Americans, and 55 percent to 36 percent among Latinos.
At the other end of the spectrum, Obama posted weak performances among working-class whites in all four surveys. In the national ABC/Post poll, Obama drew just 34 percent of non-college white men (down from 39 percent in the national 2008 exit poll), and 35 percent of non-college white women (down from 41 percent in 2008). In Ohio, the NBC/Marist survey gave Obama 41 percent of non-college white women and 40 percent of non-college white men; in Florida he drew just 37 percent of the working-class white men and 36 percent of the women; in Virginia, just 32 percent of the women and 31 percent of the men. These results are consistent with an array of recent polls showing Obama facing anemic numbers among working-class whites.
Among white men with a college degree, Obama's numbers are also modest across all four surveys. The NBC/Marist Polls show him winning just 40 percent of them in Virginia, 36 percent in Ohio and 34 percent in Florida. The ABC/Washington Post survey is more promising for him: it shows him capturing 44 percent of those college white men, comparable to the 42 percent he won nationally in 2008, according to the Edison Research exit poll.
In all four polls, though, Obama runs much better with the college-educated white women than any other segment of the white electorate. In the ABC/Washington Post national survey he draws 51 percent; that's down from the elevated 60 percent the poll showed him attracting in April, but almost exactly even with the 52 percent he captured among those women last time. (ABC Pollster Gary Langer points out that even that nine percentage point drop is within the margin of errors for the two surveys.) Obama also wins 51 percent of those college white women in both the Ohio and Virginia state polls, and 44 percent among them in Florida. That's significantly better than his performance among the other three parts of the white quadrant in all three states.
Garin, the Democratic pollster, says he's confident of Obama's ability to maintain his support with these upscale white women. "They're not going anywhere," he says. "Unlike young people who I describe as having been Obama-cized and not politicized, these college women are Democrats. They have been driven out by the Republican Party. Obama is far more aligned with their values and priorities, and they are just in a very different place from the republican party...in terms of fundamental questions of the role of government and what's the country's priorities ought to be and on the social and cultural agenda."
Kristen Soltis, a Republican pollster, acknowledges that Obama has made inroads with these women around social issues such as contraception and gay marriage. "What I don't know is whether that pattern is sustainable," she says. "I don't know if you can sustain the 'war on women' narrative for months and months. Because, ultimately the economy is going to decide things."
If Obama stays close to his 2008 level of support among minority voters and maintains or slightly increases their turnout, Romney has to capture about 60 percent of whites to reach a national majority. The good news for him is Republicans reached exactly that level among whites in the 2010 Congressional elections, according to the Edison Research exit poll.
But in scaling that height, Republicans benefited from a movement in their direction from all whites. In 2010, the GOP not only drove down the Democratic vote to 35 percent or less among white men and women without a college degree and college-educated men, but reduced the Democratic numbers among college white women to just 43 percent, according to the exit poll. (Democrats did much better with those college women in some key Senate races, including California and Colorado.)
If Obama can maintain majority support among those well-educated women, while remaining close to his four-fifths support among minorities, the president can win a national majority while capturing only a little more than one-third of all other whites. Even that isn't impossible for Romney: In 2010, Republicans actually held Democrats to about that level of support with those other whites. But it's not a hill Romney should want to climb: no Republican presidential nominee since 1988 has dominated the other three quadrants of the white electorate to quite that overwhelming extent.
They can't cheat when it's not close. Fraudulent numbers will be too obvious. If they could get away with cheating, why did Chris Christie win in NJ, McDonnell in VA, Scott Brown in MA, Bob Turner take Weiner's seat in NY's 9th CD, let alone lose the House in 2010?
Global warming foolery has ranked last on the last few Gallup polls on what the public is worried about, IIRC, and the cost of energy is on the minds of most people. Most Americans regard the United Nations as corrupt, e.g. Oil for Food in Iraq prior to the war.
You think the mediots will sell time for those ads? I've got my doubts they will.
IMHO, they'd sell their mothers for a buck. The lame stream media has watched their numbers of viewers and subscribers crash.
Don't you wonder why their owners keep them??? I'll tell you: They maintain their ownership in managing public opinion to manipulate the value of the OTHER assets they trade, whether to devalue the price of an acquisition or to inflate the price for sale. It's name in the trade is 'pump and dump.' It is VERY profitable, particularly when selling participation to politicians increases the leverage considerably.
Willard didn’t govern like a Socialist because he had to, he governed like a Socialist because he WANTED to.
Think of what a bond trader could do with that kind of information.
Hillary would definitely NOT save the white house for the rats! First off all the blacks who still support Obama would go nuts, secondly the majority of registered voters are women, look around at reality, women DO NOT want to put Hillary in the white house, if they did she would be there now.
“College-educated white women who are unmarried are indeed Obamas last line of defense. Hell win them this year, but not by the same margin he won them in 2008.”
I couldn’t imagine why this group (or many others) would go for Obama at this point; their lot, like most Americans, is worse than four years ago. The only groups I see him carrying are the unassimilated permanent dependent underclass, government workers (employed at any level in any capacity), and sexual deviants, and I can’t believe there are enough of them to outweigh “us”.
He has weak support of the “working class” because many of them are now not “working”.
Not so much if he quits on his own.
secondly the majority of registered voters are women, look around at reality, women DO NOT want to put Hillary in the white house, if they did she would be there now.
Your hand-wave does not impress. IMO, there are enough who would.
IMHO: The vote will go one of two ways either an Obama squeeker or a Romney landslide.
White women are the largest voting block because they live longer.
For whatever reason, they elected Barry.
I don't have that subgroup analysis. 56 percent of Non-Hispanic whites voted for McCain.
DUH! And does anyone think a SOCIALLY LIBERAL anybody is going to vote Republican?
“Your hand-wave does not impress. IMO, there are enough who would.”
Only an election would settle it but so far there is no evidence to support your opinion. Over the years I have asked quite a few women to tell me candidly whether they really wanted to see a woman elected president, the responses have been almost universally negative. Some paused and thought for a while but after thinking it over responded with a no. Maybe this will change with more women being elected to governorships and such but as of now I don’t see it.
Both of my Senators and my rep are women.