Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Yet another "parsing the words" scandal...

Apparently, David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama campaign, said Democratic Presidential candidates lose white working class voters anyway - as a HuffPo article puts it, Axelrod's saying don't worry about Obama's inability to win white working class voters!
Obviously, this is being played up, including by President Clinton, as the Obama campaign dissing white working class voters as inconsequential.

So I went to the source - an NPR interview this morning. Here's what I transcribed:
Inskeep: "In a general election, if Barack Obama is the nominee, does he have enough support in his base - young voters, new voters, upscale suburban voters - to win even if the working white class were to go to John McCain?"

Axelrod: "Let's understand that the working, white working class has gone to the Republican nominee for many elections going back to, even to the Clinton years, and so this is not new that Democratic candidates don't rely solely on those votes. But, if you look at the Washington Post poll recently, Senator Obama was doing slightly better among those voters in the general election than Senator Clinton. But what he can do that she hasn't been able to do is attract independent voters, attract younger voters, and that's why we are winning a lot of these battleground states...
<cross-talk and Axelrod says polls show Obama doing better in NY, CA etc. in the GE, snipped-RS>
In many of these large states Senator Obama is doing better in a general election matchup with Senator McCain than Senator Clinton and a lot of it has to do with the ability to expand the Democratic base."

So basically, what Axelrod's saying is that Democratic nominees - even the successful ones like President Bill Clinton - have not won the white working class voters (Reagan Democrats?) This seems fair enough - a recent paper by Ruy Teixeira and Alan Abramowitz (of the Brookings Institution and Emory University respectively) has this to say (via The Swamp):
"But despite Clinton's electoral success, it was not the case that he received a great deal of white working class support. He averaged only 41 percent across his two election victories. But he did, at least, prevent these voters from siding with his Republican opponents in large numbers, eking out one point pluralities among the white working class in both elections (the rest went to Perot)."

Further, Axelrod's point is that just because Senator Clinton is winning the white working class in Democratic primaries does not mean that she will win the bigger pool of such voters in a general election or do better than Senator Obama among these voters. On the other hand, Senator Obama is broadening the Democratic base by bringing in independents and Republicans, which is something Senator Clinton is not (I'd say less - RS) able to do. The Trail over at WaPo pretty much agrees.

And once again, something that is empirically true is distorted... But what else do we expect in this destructive Democratic race?

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