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Trouble with white, blue-collar vote for Dems, Obama?

In all the musings about what to watch for in today's primary and special elections around the country, there was a paragraph in a story in today's Wall Street Journal ("Democrats Face Threat From Their Own Base") that caught my eye -- and could spell trouble for President Obama.

Democratic strategists said their party faces great peril if it is unable to find candidates this year who can shore up the connection with white, blue-collar voters who are trending toward the GOP. Mr. Obama won election in 2008 thanks largely to highly energized minority voters and liberal whites, but white voters like these in northeastern Pennsylvania were crucial to building a majority.

Reading that assessment took me back to the grueling 2008 presidential campaign and then-Sen. Barack Obama's difficulty connecting with blue-collar voters. It was so difficult that then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was able to continue her nomination battle, which everyone thought would be over in February, until June. Obviously, Obama prevailed. But the key to that Journal paragraph is understanding that white, blue-collar voters like those in Pennsylvania were the mortar between those blocs of liberal whites and excited people of color that got Obama elected.

Given the bipartisan anger rippling across the country, the rise of the Tea Party movement, the growing disillusionment with Washington to get anything done and concern about the size of government to accomplish those tasks, I'll be curious to see how all those voting blocs cast their ballots tonight. The Democrats are going to have a time of it no matter what this November. We know that. But if Democrats can't keep white, blue-collar voters from going Republican in 2010, imagine the trouble Obama might have in 2012.

By Jonathan Capehart  | May 18, 2010; 1:39 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Comments

"the growing disillusionment with Washington to get anything done"
*******

cheaply...effectively and without trampling on people's rights.

Posted by: dummypants | May 18, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Yo, Jonathan! Dude... you've been spending way too much time on Morning Joe. And here's the sentence that proves it: "Reading that assessment took me back to the grueling 2008 presidential campaign and then-Sen. Barack Obama's difficulty connecting with blue-collar voters..."

So-called "smart" political pundits and opinion writers like you and your friend Peggy Noonan and others at the WSJ need to stop equating "blue-collar" with "white." Period. End of sentence.

Find another way to describe these voters as you are overlooking millions of non-white blue collar voters. Call them "Tea Party" supporters, call them "late to dinner," I don't care. Just stop pretending that the only blue-collar workers in this country that count are white.

Call them the former "values voters" or the "new silent majority." Or just call them white, low-to-middle class, conservatives.

Just stop the pretense that blue collar means white. It doesn't.

And one more thing: pundits also need to stop pretending that candidate must contort themselves into various and sundry positions to "connect" with voters. Asking the question "what does Obama have to do connect with these voters?" is ridiculous.

The question should be reversed what do these VOTERS need to do to connect with Obama? White voters who don't particularly like black people will not connect with a black candidate no matter what he or she does. No amount of drinking beer, bowling or trolling the infield while carrying a confederate flag and humming a catchy Stephen Foster tune is going to make those voters like that candidate. Instead, the question should focus on what those voters can do to shed prejudices that keep them from voting or supporting non-white candidates.

Case in point, Lynn Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania as a Republican and lost badly. You'd think a beloved football player from a heralded championship team would have an advantage at getting those voters to vote for him. They didn't. It wasn't that Swann-y didn't "connect"; it was that his connection didn't translate to votes.

Posted by: jade_7243 | May 18, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Yo, Jonathan! Dude... you've been spending way too much time on Morning Joe. And here's the sentence that proves it: "Reading that assessment took me back to the grueling 2008 presidential campaign and then-Sen. Barack Obama's difficulty connecting with blue-collar voters..."

So-called "smart" political pundits and opinion writers like you and your friend Peggy Noonan and others at the WSJ need to stop equating "blue-collar" with "white." Period. End of sentence.

Find another way to describe these voters as you are overlooking millions of non-white blue collar voters. Call them "Tea Party" supporters, call them "late to dinner," I don't care. Just stop pretending that the only blue-collar workers in this country that count are white.

Call them the former "values voters" or the "new silent majority." Or just call them white, low-to-middle class, conservatives.

Just stop the pretense that blue collar means white. It doesn't.

And one more thing: pundits also need to stop pretending that candidate must contort themselves into various and sundry positions to "connect" with voters. Asking the question "what does Obama have to do connect with these voters?" is ridiculous.

The question should be reversed what do these VOTERS need to do to connect with Obama? White voters who don't particularly like black people will not connect with a black candidate no matter what he or she does. No amount of drinking beer, bowling or trolling the infield while carrying a confederate flag and humming a catchy Stephen Foster tune is going to make those voters like that candidate. Instead, the question should focus on what those voters can do to shed prejudices that keep them from voting or supporting non-white candidates.

Case in point, Lynn Swann ran for governor of Pennsylvania as a Republican and lost badly. You'd think a beloved football player from a heralded championship team would have an advantage at getting those voters to vote for him. They didn't. It wasn't that Swann-y didn't "connect"; it was that his connection didn't translate to votes.

Posted by: jade_7243 | May 18, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Double posting the fault of WaPo computer system, not me. But I'll apologize nonetheless...

Posted by: jade_7243 | May 18, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

The majority of whites who voted for Obama were young or college educated. He only got 44% of Whites in 2008 according to Gallup Exit Polls after the election. I've got them bookmarked because this is a common myth--that he won a large amount of blue collars/whites, etc. I'm worried about next wk, not 2012. With all the emergencies we've had, a large sink hole may swallow DC or something. Just waiting for the next catastrophe to hit.....almost Hurricane season, you know?

Posted by: carolerae48 | May 18, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Jade. Way too much time with MJ.....not good Jonathan. Hopefully you won't take up Pat's memes next, but you are already doing Joe. Eh!

Posted by: carolerae48 | May 18, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

bring our troops home, the dem's ran in 06 and 08 on the Peace Platform, and that dang dummy obama not only increased military spending, but he sents 35K more american men and women. How can we be in constant continual war? Obama preached that we needed that money for america, and now he has doubled the spending!!!
Ten Years Of Unjust War!
No! No! No!
bama

Posted by: simonsays1 | May 18, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I live in rural NW Missouri - I know the people who connect with Sarah Palin. President Obama should not stoop to the demeaning tactics used by the Tea Party and the new leadership of the GOP. ........

http://thefiresidepost.com/2010/04/12/personal-experience-with-tea-bag-mentality/

Posted by: glclark4750 | May 18, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

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