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Low-Wage Workers, Poll Timeliness

An interesting poll story this morning reports that Sen. Barack Obama holds a 2 to 1 edge over Republican Sen. John McCain among the nation's low-wage workers. Our Readers Who Comment on politics have jumped on this with their usual remarks for or against one of the candidates, but have also asked why the poll results are being reported almost a month after the end of data collection and whether those polled were likely to vote.

The story says that Obama's advantage is attributable to overwhelming support from African Americans and Hispanics, but that even among low-income white workers Obama leads McCain by 10 points. The polling was conducted between June 18 and July 7, a fact that caused reader sudderth to say, "What a bunch of deceptive bologna. This poll was done 4-6 weeks ago."

Jon Cohen, a co-author of the story and the Post's director of polling, said in an interview this morning that this poll was part of an effort to address broader themes than the horse race. It was conducted by the Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University, and the polling was done over a much longer period than a horse-race poll would be. The Post and ABC News regularly poll together on horse race questions and report those results quickly.

"I would only point to the broader themes," Cohen said. "Fundamentally this was about these people more than the candidates. [The low-wage worker] is a unique population. To the extent we focused on the top line is our fault."

Cohen said that "only registered voters" were included in the vote numbers and added that "Those numbers include all respondents who told us they were registered to vote. If we'd emphasized a "likely voter" model we would have excluded those who might not really be qualified; but again the focus was (intended to be) on the people and their underlying preferences."

Cohen and reporter Mike Fletcher and will be online today at 1 p.m. EDT to answer
questions about the poll.

Now to some other comments.

Franc33432 said, "Obama is not leading now. More media bias. As far as African Americans and the working poor - Obama is a terrible choice and McCain is only marginally better..."

richardwhetstone wrote, "If White voters are willing to vote against their interests by supporting McCain then they deserve the continuation of every negative economic effect that such support will bring..."

bdunn1 asked, "...How can any lower income person vote Republican, given that party's long history of keeping wage earners down. Trickle down doesn't work. That should be clear by now. And cutting taxes for the rich doesn't either; otherwise the economy would be booming right now."

profyle424 said, "Can pollsters and the media PLEASE stop with this "working whites" and "working blacks" stuff? Nearly EVERYONE works, and everyone has a vote that should be valued. Just because someone is poor doesn't mean their vote means more or less than someone who has a graduate degree..."

cycleguy2004 wrote, "I find it very disturbing the the Post has in essence made its self into a propaganda site for Obama and liberal issues. When was the last time the Post ran a real unbiased political story... Where is the responsible journalism of the Watergate era? Where is the creditability? Thanks for this forum."

To which angriestdogintheworld replied, "I want what ever this moron is smoking... parallel universe good weed."

Ali4 wrote, "'s mentioned that nearly HALF of the Hispanic workers polled in this survey are "not U.S. citizens" but it doesn't mention if they're even legal permanent residents. In short, the implications in this story on the election are pretty shaky, given that half of Hispanic workers aren't eligible to vote." [Pollster Cohen said, "Excluding those who said they are not currently U.S. citizens changes the numbers by only a couple of points."]

jrw1 said, "I would have thought that by now Obama would have a solid lead over McCain just about everywhere thanks to Dubya and his moronic policies... Obama is struggling with key constituencies, particularly white moderates... It's time for the Obamaphiles to be worried, very worried."

tryreason wrote, "The reason so many Americans are pessimistic about politics is that they understand washington is a subsidiary of Wall Street and corporate America, the Republican party in particular."

branfo4 said, "...Apparently most voters are not too sure about racist candidate Obama but positively hate The Old Maverick, even though he is a hero & etc..."

We'll close with jmano, who wrote, "I notice that you quote a 64-year-old person saying that she is "scared about the younger generation running the country." After watching the current generation in charge nearly destroy the country, I, at age 66, look forward to a younger generation turning the country around for the better..."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  August 4, 2008; 9:55 AM ET
Categories:  McCain , Obama , Presidential Politics  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Giving Health Care Workers the Right to Choose
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I'm lower-middle-upper class myself.

Posted by: Boss302

At least we don't have fine class distinctions here in the free USA, like other countries I can't name.

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We have mastered this low wage thing in America and if the majority rules, we could have a good horse race here. We can continue to spread low wages around the world and have nobody in the middle, only the high and the low class. I'm lower-middle-upper class myself.

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Posted by: Bob Greiner | August 6, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

great work,

Posted by: VernonBartlett | August 5, 2008 3:37 AM | Report abuse

What do you think of the fact that
the article stated that 25% of all US adults, working 30 or more hours per week earn less than $27,000 a year.

What should their attitude be? Gratefull?

Quote the article
"many are unconvinced that either presidential candidate would be better than the other ........Obama's advantage is attributable largely to overwhelming support from two traditional Democratic constituencies: African Americans and Hispanics.... among white workers ...Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, .....Still, one in six of the white workers polled remains uncommitted to either candidate. And a majority of those polled, both white and minority, are ambivalent about the impact of the election.... Mary Lee, 50, a factory worker in rural Kentucky. "I know how politics is. I really don't think it's going to matter either way."

The Forgotten Majority
By Betsy Leondar-Wright

In America's Forgotten Majority: Why the White Working Class Still Matters, Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers break down voting records by gender, race and class. They find that the bulk of the Republican resurgence from the 1980s to the 2000 election was due to non-union white working-class men abandoning the Democratic party, with over 20 percent of them switching from Democrats to non-voters or third party supporters or Republicans between 1960 to 2000.

By using polling data, they debunk the myth that this represented a swing towards rightwing, conservative values. Polls show that on issues such as abortion, gay rights and the environment, these voters, like most of the country, became slightly more liberal in the 1980s and 1990s. Nor did working-class white men become more anti-government. They did, however, become more disappointed in government, feeling that public programs had done little for them...."not protected by a union, a bachelor's degree or affirmative action [who have] lost much ground in wages and benefits over the past quarter-century, while often being culturally and politically lumped into the 'white male' power structure with whom they share little but the color of their genitalia."

When income trends are broken down, working-class white men are the only group for which median income actually fell from 1979 to 1998.... Hope for the future and belief in the redistributive powers of government programs have made more sense to other working-class and low-income people than to white men, who actually saw a new generation earn less than their fathers.... attribute the change in voting patterns to bitterness at falling behind economically.

They recommend that the Democratic party take up a platform that would help working-class white men

as well as other working-class people -- universal health care, retirement security, and access to education."

In other words ths Democrats had been ignoring and walking over, oppressing the white working class in favoring everybody over them, while also being given the boot by Republicans, has caused them feelings of alienation with both parties.

Posted by: WillBlake | August 4, 2008 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Let's keep this simple. During the peiod in which the poll was taken, Obama averaged 46% and McCain 43% in the Gallup Tracking Poll. The figures from the Gallup Tracking Poll for today are Obama 46% and McCain 43%. Therefore, there is every reson to believe that the numbers reported in this poll have not changed substantially.

Posted by: Phrank | August 4, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree completely with profyle424's comments. It's insulting to label people a "working class" white or black. Everyone works, but this says to people that this special group does all of the work and then the upper classes come along and rape them of the due profits for which they did not "work." And to some extent, this is true, especially considering our off-shore factory conditions. If society feels as though the profits are being divided disproportionately in favor of the managers and investors, then the upper classes should get the labels, not the "workers." And their labels should be something like "thieves" or "exploiters" or "rapists" or something along those lines. Stop denigrating people by calling them "workers." That used to be an honorable description.

Posted by: dcp | August 4, 2008 5:35 PM | Report abuse

Dear American Citizens and the Press

As a concerned citizen, I consider it is my duty to bring following message to you all.

"We the citizens of the United States of America have the ultimate responsibility to elect the " Right Candidate" to lead our nation, out of our huge present and future internal and external challenges as well as opportunities. This is to prevent depression and isolation in-spite of being the only superpower in the world morally, democratically, economically, and militarily.

We need to consider the "critical qualities and characteristics" of our presumptive presidential nominees at the time we vote.

In my personal and professional opinion the critical considerations are as under:

1. Calm, cool, and collected " temper " [ Presidential Temperament ].
2. Sound and sustained "Judgment and Caliber".
3. "Thought-fullness and togetherness" of purpose and positions.
4. Minimum "ex-poser and exploitation" around "Washington and Washington insiders".
5. Renewed " Vigor and Vision " for our Greatgrand Nation.
6. Foreign policy based on " American Values, Virtuous, Vastness".

Stay informed, stay involved, and stay engaged. Do not allow some partisan media, pundits, pollsters, and perpetual political opinion makers effect your vote in the wrong direction.

Don't be effected and duped by "Psychological Terrorism" that is directed at common American people without their full consent and awareness.

Long live U.S.A and its diverse but democratic people.

Col. A.M. Khajawall [Ret] MD., ABFM., ABDA.
Chief Consultant: World Wide Porfessional Consultants[WWPC]
Colonel, USAR/MC Combat Stress Control[Ret], Disabled American Veteran and Freedom team.
Consultant Psychiatrist: CA State, Medical Board of California, and Los Angeles Mental Health Department
Address: 7642 Eaglehelm Court Las Vegas NV 89123

PS:They know what America needs to avoid depression.

Posted by: Anonymous | August 4, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

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