Obama Losing Whites, Winning the Election?
Matt Yglesias points to a new ABC/WaPo survey showing the racial breakdown in the presidential race:
Among all white voters, McCain leads Obama by 7 points, 52-45 percent; that, however, is a bit less than the average Republican advantage among whites in presidential elections. Obama makes it back with 95 percent of blacks, as well as clear majority support among Hispanics.
Ezra Klein notes that, if this holds, it’ll mean that McCain will simultaneously “win whites and lose the presidency.”
He fears this will lead to lingering questions of legitimacy and goes to great pains to argue that a coalition of minorities with a large number of white is just as legitimate as one with a majority of whites and relatively few minorities.
I’m not sure who’s arguing otherwise. Indeed, this would be a non-issue if Obama were white. No Democrat has won a majority of the white vote for president in my lifetime, much less Ezra’s.
Bill Clinton got only 39 and 43 percent of the white vote in 1992 and 1996, respectively. Granted, Ross Perot was a significant factor in the popular vote in both contests but Clinton failed to even get a white plurality – George H.W. Bush had 40 percent in 1992 and Bob Dole had 46 percent in 1996. Jimmy Carter, the last Democrat to win before Clinton, got only 47 percent of the white vote in 1976 compared to Gerald Ford’s 52 percent.
Obama looks to be on track to win three weeks from tomorrow. If he does, he’ll be only the third Democrat to do so in my lifetime and it’ll be only the fourth Democratic win in the eleven presidential elections for which I’ve been alive. It’ll be the eleven for eleven in Republicans carrying the white vote.