THE PLANK FEBRUARY 25, 2008
My TRB column in this issue is about the class split between Clinton and Obama supporters. One of the side points I made (which others have made as well) is that the split is an artifact of the split between high- and low-education voters, rather than a function of economic class per se:
there's no particular reason to think her working-class support has anything to do with policy. Clinton's economic positions are no more populist than Obama's. Her downscale support long preceded her populist rhetorical turn and seems to be an artifact of downscale voters spending less time consuming political news, and therefore gravitating toward the more familiar candidate. Obama has done better with working-class voters in states where he has had time to campaign extensively. His worst loss (aside from Arkansas) came in Florida, where no campaigning took place. In Iowa, where the candidates achieved total saturation, he defeated Clinton among low-income voters.
I bring this up because today CNN has a new Texas poll which shows, among other things, that voters who watched the last debate are dramatically more pro-Obama:
"Among the one-third of Texas Democratic primary voters who watched all or most of the debate, Obama leads Clinton by 20 points," said CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
"Among the 42 percent who followed news about the debate, Clinton and Obama are neck and neck. And among the one-quarter of Texas Democrats who paid no attention to the debate, Clinton leads Obama by nearly 20 points.
"Is this because Obama appeals to better-educated Democrats and they were more likely to watch the debate? No. Even among college-educated Democrats, the more attention you paid to the debate, the better Obama does."
This is certainly more evidence that high-education voters favor Obama not because there's something effete and latte-ish about his campaign, but because voters who pay more attention to the campaign tend to favor him, because he's just a better politician.