More On Obama And Blue Collar Whites

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THE PLANK APRIL 23, 2008

More On Obama And Blue Collar Whites

The Washington Post's Alex MacGillis notes that, while Obama fared poorly among blue collar whites in Pennsylvania, 1) Blue collar whites defected to George W. Bush in heavy numbers four years ago, but John Kerry still won the state by winning more upscale suburbanites, and 2) His Pennsylvania reporting suggests (in contradiction to what my colleague John Judis speculates) that independent and GOP crossover support for Obama remains formidable.

You'd think this would be fairly obvious, but it isn't. In the 1990s, political journalists obsessed over the importance of upscale suburbanites. Socially conservative downscale whites were practically invisible. Now it's the other way around. Hillary Clinton does perform better than Obama among downscale whites, but she doesn't perform better over all. It just happens that her stronger group is the subject of the political world's attention at the moment, and thus she's benefitting from the punditry's inability to keep more than one swing voter group in its head at the same time.

--Jonathan Chait

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