Whistling past Dixie

Updated
 
Whistling past Dixie
Whistling past Dixie

It’s widely assumed that President Obama is not only struggling with white, working class voters, but he’s going to lose this demographic badly to Mitt Romney in November. But John Sides reports today on a key detail that casts the conventional wisdom in a new light (via Kevin Drum).

From Sides’ piece:

A new survey and report from the Public Religion and Research Institute – entitled “Beyond God and Guns” – is a valuable corrective to so many stereotypes of the white working class. Particularly noteworthy in this report are the large and important differences within the white working class – by age, region, gender, and party, to name a few. For example, consider this:

“In mid-August, Romney held a commanding 40-point lead over Obama among white working-class voters in the South (62% vs. 22%). However, neither candidate held a statistically significant lead among white working-class voters in the West (46% Romney vs. 41% Obama), Northeast (42% Romney vs. 38% Obama), or the Midwest (36% Romney vs. 44% Obama).”

The key takeaway here isn’t just that it’s a mistake to look at working-class whites as a monolithic bloc, but also that it’s a mistake to overlook how distinct the South is from other regions.

Kevin added another important point: “This is a worthwhile corrective almost anytime you see a national result for any class of voters or any trend over the past 40 years. The massive shift of the Southern vote from Democratic to Republican is, by far, the biggest electoral change in the past few decades, and it often overwhelms national survey results. It’s something you should always at least think about when you read an article about big changes in the electorate: is this really a national change, or is it mostly driven by changes in the South?”

Whistling past Dixie

Updated