The Democrats' Path to DefeatBarack Obama may indeed win the Democratic nomination by sheer force of the number of delegates that he has managed to win so far and because of the justifiable fear on the part of Democratic Party leadership that failure to nominate Obama would lead to the key interests within the Democratic apparatus fracturing apart. However, if the Democrats nominate Obama, all signs point to a General Election defeat:
Barack Obama's problem winning votes from working-class whites is showing no sign of going away, and their impression of him is getting worse.
In an Associated Press-Yahoo News poll in April, 53 percent of whites who have not completed college viewed Obama unfavorably, up a dozen percentage points from November. During that period, the numbers viewing Clinton and Republican candidate John McCain negatively have stayed about even.
In Democratic primaries held on or before Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, whites who have not finished college favored the New York senator by a cumulative 59 percent to 32 percent, according to exit polls of voters conducted for The Associated Press and the television networks.
In primaries since Feb. 5, that group has favored Clinton by 64 percent to 34 percent. That includes Ohio and Pennsylvania, in which working-class whites have favored Clinton by 44 and 41 percentage points respectively.
Recent voting patterns underscore Obama's continued poor performance with these voters, who are often pivotal in general election swing states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.
A rather elitist attitude has developed within certain circles of the Democratic Party with regard to working-class whites-a sort of "we know what's best for you" attitude. This mentality essentially says that Democratic Party Leadership knows more about blue collar whites than blue collar whites know themselves. It also plays up the divide between the so-called "educated" white vote and the so-called "uneducated" white vote. The pollsters are correct that such a difference does exist in this election cycle, but it isn't permanent. It has been proven over and over in repeated surveys since the 1960's that the older college educated whites become, the more likely they are to become Republicans. That leaves working-class white voters as the backbone of the Democratic Party, right? There are, after all, still more blue collar whites than any other demographic group of voters.
The Democratic Party has chosen to ignore the concerns of this numerous group, and it cost them defeat in 2000 and in 2004. Ronald Reagan understood that in the modern era, an election can't be won without blue collar white voters-that these people must be brought into any winning coalition. Bill Clinton understood that, too-although as he turned on blue collar voters, they turned on his legacy in 2000.
A candidate from either political party who attempts to win without reaching out to blue collar whites will not be beaten-they will be crushed.
While less educated whites tend to vote less frequently than better educated voters, they are important because of their sheer number.
Exit polls show they have comprised three in 10 voters in Democratic contests so far, a group that cannot be ignored in a contest that has seen Obama maintain a slim lead. They made up 43 percent of all voters in the 2004 presidential contest, when they heavily favored President Bush over Democrat John Kerry.
For those who don't remember their history well, George McGovern carried one State in 1972 for the Democrats-Massachusetts. Like Al Gore (Tennessee), McGovern could not carry his home state of South Dakota. Walter Mondale carried his home State of Minnesota in 1984 by around 5,000 votes-it was the only State Mondale won.