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Working-Class Whites a Barrier to a Democratic House
National Journal ^ | June 20, 2012 | Josh Kraushaar

Posted on 06/27/2012 11:14:11 PM PDT by neverdem

Unlike Obama, House Democrats will have trouble forging a majority without that demographic.

Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill famously remarked that all politics is local. But this year, it’s the rhetoric of John Edwards that rings truer--in assessing the House race landscape, there are indeed two Americas. President Obama believes the way to win a second term is by rallying elements of the party base, but House Democrats trying to take back the majority face the added burden of winning the votes of increasingly disillusioned white working-class voters.

When looking at why Republicans are likely to retain their 25-seat majority--The Cook Political Report now says the possibility that Republicans will gain seats is greater than the possibility Democrats will retake the majority--it’s worth keeping the demographic divide in mind. Democrats are likely to run very competitively in suburban swing districts and regain a number of seats that they lost in 2010. But House Republicans are still putting Democrats on the defensive in rural and working-class confines, threatening to pick up additional seats they didn’t win in the midterm wave.

Of The Cook Report’s 19 Republican-held seats ranked as toss-ups or leaning the Democrats’ way, at least 11 are in urban or suburban congressional districts. Of the 11 Democratic-held seats in play, most are working-class districts or contain significant rural populations.

Democrats are well positioned to pick up seats in the Chicago suburbs (Reps. Joe Walsh/Robert Dold), Denver (Rep. Mike Coffman), and around Las Vegas (Rep. Joe Heck), but could give nearly as many seats back in areas spanning from working-class southwest Pennsylvania (Rep. Mark Critz), coal-producing southern Illinois (retiring Rep. Jerry Costello), rural Little Dixie (retiring Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma) and the expansive countryside of upstate and western New York (Reps. Bill Owens/Kathy Hochul).

This isn’t a trivial matter. If Democrats struggle to broaden their brand, they will need to thoroughly dominate in the Democratic-trending suburbs to win back control. In 2010, the National Republican Congressional Committee focused on largely white, conservative districts held by veteran Democrats as the gateway to a majority, and succeeded beyond their expectations. A GOP-dominated redistricting process and untimely retirements from Blue Dog members, such as Boren and Rep. Heath Shuler, have offered up fresh opportunities to go on the offensive.

For a telltale sign of how far Democratic fortunes have fallen with working-class voters, just listen to Critz, who sounded like a Republican in rebuking President Obama after his Ohio jobs speech last week. “President Obama and others in Washington need to realize that we cannot spend our way to prosperity,” he said.

As Thomas Edsall noted in The New York Times on Sunday, “The correlation between support from working-class whites and Democratic victory suggests the party takes a great risk when it downplays the importance of this segment with the electorate.” While the white working-class share of the vote is declining, it makes up a disproportionate share of voters in battleground House districts. When Bill Clinton headed his party’s ticket in 1992, Democrats carried 52.7 percent of the white noncollege House vote; in 2010, that number plummeted to 34.7 percent.

On the national level, Obama can get reelected even if he loses badly with working-class whites, thanks to the rapidly diversifying electorate. But at the House level, Democrats will have trouble forging a majority without them. Consider this: After redistricting, there are now an outright majority of 221 congressional districts with a Cook PVI rating of R+3 or greater. The next Democratic House majority (if it occurs this decade) will have to be built on the backs of Democrats who hold an appeal well beyond the base. That will be all the more difficult, thanks to an increasingly polarized Congress.

That reality is making things difficult for Democrats to gain a net of 25 seats to regain the majority. On the top of Democratic target lists are vulnerable Republicans representing white working-class districts, such as Rust Belt freshmen Reps. Bill Johnson and Jim Renacci (Ohio), Sean Duffy (Wisconsin), and Dan Benishek (Michigan). Democrats believe the members’ votes for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget give their opponents a potent line of attack on entitlements. But complicating their prospects are Obama’s weak approval numbers, which in those districts are considerably worse than his middling national approval ratings.

Meanwhile, in the redistricting process, Republicans paid careful attention to shoring up the districts of vulnerable suburban Republicans, who regularly faced tough reelection campaigns. Members such as Reps. Steve Stivers (Columbus, Ohio), Steve Chabot (Cincinnati), Jim Gerlach (Philadelphia), Pat Meehan (Philadelphia), Daniel Webster (Orlando), and Kevin Yoder (Kansas City, Kan.) are now favored to win another term. The gains have largely offset the new opportunities Democrats have in California and Illinois.

The Democrats’ challenge is amplified by Obama’s campaign strategy to design policies appealing to elements of his base, but which offer diminishing returns to down-ballot Democrats. By ordering his administration to stop deporting illegal immigrants who came to the country as children, Obama illustrated the importance of mobilizing the Hispanic vote. But many Hispanic voters are gerrymandered into safe Democratic House seats, making the congressional payoff less fruitful. The president’s push to help college students pay off their loans was designed to help him get them to the polls, but most large college campuses are in noncompetitive seats. And his support for gay marriage helped him with fundraising, but it did little to move the Democratic needle in swing districts.

As the election draws closer, expect to see many Democratic candidates in working-class districts balance their loyalty to the president against the necessity of doing whatever it takes to win. Because what’s good for the goose isn’t necessarily good for the gander.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia
KEYWORDS: missinglink; vanity; whiteworkingclass; workingclasswhites
House Dems' campaign chief urges candidates to steer clear of convention
1 posted on 06/27/2012 11:14:18 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: wardaddy; Joe Brower; Cannoneer No. 4; Criminal Number 18F; Dan from Michigan; Eaker; Jeff Head; ...
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Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.

2 posted on 06/27/2012 11:32:17 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: neverdem

It occurs to me that “Hispanics” are not Irishmen. They don’t see the worth of voting even in districts where they dominate, at least in those places where they are not long established.


3 posted on 06/28/2012 12:11:12 AM PDT by RobbyS (Christus rex.)
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To: neverdem

The thing that gets me Wa Wa’d up is the name Democratic! There is nothing Democratic about the Democrats. What is a Democratic? Hannity drives me crazy always saying “The Democratic Party”. The liberals use this term all the time. We should refer to them what they are. The Undemocratic Party, or what they really are. Communists, Socialists,Idiots, Facists, or whatever. Thank You. D


4 posted on 06/28/2012 12:22:26 AM PDT by DISCO
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To: DISCO

I agree with you. Every time I vote I always make a lot of noise about the sign being wrong - the two parties are Democrat and Republican - and ask to talk to the “person in charge” about the error. Never gets me anywhere, particularly when the person in charge that day happens to be someone who is a member of our Republican Women’s group but I still do it.


5 posted on 06/28/2012 1:12:44 AM PDT by Grams A (The Sun will rise in the East in the morning and God is still on his throne.)
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To: DISCO; Grams A

The true name of the Dems would be the “Teachers Union Political Action Committee”; they are 100% owned by the teachers’ unions. They don’t represent the teachers’ unions; they are owned by them.


6 posted on 06/28/2012 2:27:06 AM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: DISCO

They are democratic Socialists. Call ‘em what they are, their heads will explode.


7 posted on 06/28/2012 2:39:41 AM PDT by Islander7 (There is no septic system so vile, so filthy, the left won't drink from to further their agenda)
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To: Grams A

Democratic is an adjective
Democrat is a noun


8 posted on 06/28/2012 3:39:35 AM PDT by W. W. SMITH (Maybe the horse (RNC) will learn to sing)
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To: neverdem

“the white working-class share of the vote is declining”

Focusing solely on this demographic is a surefire path to success - rolls eyes.


9 posted on 06/28/2012 3:57:09 AM PDT by KantianBurke (Where was the Tea Party when Dubya was spending like a drunken sailor?)
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To: KantianBurke

Elections are won in key districts and key states—all of the rest is background noise.


10 posted on 06/28/2012 4:09:35 AM PDT by cgbg (No bailouts for New York and California. Let them eat debt.)
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To: neverdem
because there aren't any "working class" RATS???
11 posted on 06/28/2012 4:47:17 AM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: W. W. SMITH

If it’s good enough for Republican it’s good enough for democrat.


12 posted on 06/28/2012 5:51:50 AM PDT by soycd
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To: neverdem
On the national level, Obama can get reelected even if he loses badly with working-class whites, thanks to the rapidly diversifying electorate.

"Rapidly diversifying electorate is code for making illegals legal... Democrats would cheerfully turn our country into a third world hellhole IF it would keep them in power.

13 posted on 06/28/2012 5:52:11 AM PDT by GOPJ (The 'doting court eunuchs' of the MSM fail to notice...)
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To: GOPJ

True, look at the cities in which they dominate.


14 posted on 06/28/2012 6:05:14 AM PDT by fortheDeclaration (Pr 14:34 Righteousness exalteth a nation:but sin is a reproach to any people)
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To: DISCO

I think of them as Social Democrats. That is the European (except in England) name for Socialist parties.In England they are Labour. The Bolsheviks in Russia came out of the Social Democrat Party and were not its leftmost faction at the time.


15 posted on 06/28/2012 6:10:19 AM PDT by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's Economics In One Lesson)
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To: neverdem

Where’s the link?


16 posted on 06/28/2012 6:22:31 AM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: neverdem

I guess, “insufficient numbers of unemployed blacks to ensure Democratic house”, didn’t appeal to the base...


17 posted on 06/28/2012 6:31:37 AM PDT by LambSlave
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To: neverdem

Thanks for the ping!


18 posted on 06/28/2012 8:09:14 AM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: A.A. Cunningham; Admin Moderator
Where’s the link?

I'm sorry. I goofed. Please pardon my omission.

When anyone forgets a URL, enclose the title or other unique text within quotation marks, e.g. "Working-Class Whites a Barrier to a Democratic House"

The period was omitted for clarity.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/columns/against-the-grain/working-class-whites-a-barrier-to-a-democratic-house-20120620

I used the original title, but unique text is often better because titles often change, especially with syndicated essayists.

19 posted on 06/28/2012 10:10:04 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: A.A. Cunningham; Admin Moderator; All
When anyone forgets a URL, enclose the title or other unique text within quotation marks, e.g. "Working-Class Whites a Barrier to a Democratic House"

The period was omitted for clarity.

Then search for that string of words on Yahoo, Google, etc.

That's how you can retrieve the URL. What if I dropped dead in the meantime? I just about did with Robert's consent to Obamacare.

20 posted on 06/28/2012 10:28:18 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: GOPJ

That’s exactly what they’re doing-doubling down on the vote of the least productive, those who pay the least taxes and receive the most entitlements. They started down that path, at the expense of the white working and middle class, now they have no choice but to whole-heartedly commit to it. Pandering is their whole platform now, and they’re busy enlarging the “panderees” by various methods, including increasing the immigrant vote, legal or not, and impoverishing everyone else to force them into the entitlement recipients category.


21 posted on 06/28/2012 1:34:47 PM PDT by mrsmel (One Who Can See)
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; Bockscar; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; ...

I got polled last night, after I told ‘em I was “white/caucasian” and my (quite low- to midrange for this area) income they wanted to know no more. Thanks neverdem.


22 posted on 06/29/2012 1:27:37 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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