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.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    I think LBJ may have been the last Democratic president to win a majority of the white vote. Anyway, white folks need to prepare themselves for the browning of American, as they will be in the minority in 2042 [Source]. Then “win whites and lose the presidency” will be met with a big “Duh.”

  2. James says:

    Although the majority of whites are not racist, a significant number of whites are racist, and most of those have settled in with the Republican Party, which has welcomed them with open arms. The Democrats drove the white racists out of their party when LBJ guided the Civil Rights Act on 1964 and the Voting Rights though Congress. The racist southern Democrats deserted over to Wallace, and Nixon and then Reagan made a home for them among Republicans. Since Nixon, the Republicans have pandered to the racist elements of their party, and they have seen no reason to either change or leave. So that’s why the Republicans have a lock on the white vote and the Democrats haven’t carried the white vote since LBJ. It’s really nothing to be proud of, you know.

  3. Bandit says:

    It’s always amazing how liberals spend so much time looking for racism and racists when all they need to do is look in the mirror. You’ll look at about every instance of racebaiting in this or any other campaign and see it done by the Obama side.

  4. dan says:

    In years whites will not be the majority but hispanics will have assimiliated and eventually will be considered “white”…same as jewish and italians did…as for republicans being racist…once again liberals love screaming racist…umm….are any blacks not voting for Obama…so please dont scream racism…if oj simpson were running for president blacks would vote for him….

  5. James says:

    Who’s “screaming racism”? I’m just reminding Mr Joyner of historical fact. Where am I wrong? You dispute the fact that the racist Southern Democrats left the Democratic Party for Wallace, and then settled into the welcoming arms of the Republican Party? That’s pretty indisputable to all but the most willingly ignorant and deliberately obtuse.

  6. MM says:

    In years whites will not be the majority but hispanics will have assimiliated and eventually will be considered “white”…same as jewish and italians did…as for republicans being racist…once again liberals love screaming racist…umm….are any blacks not voting for Obama…so please dont scream racism…if oj simpson were running for president blacks would vote for him….

    Yes. The Al Sharpton candidacy clearly proved that.

  7. just me says:

    James are you really making the argument that there aren’t any racist democrats?

  8. James says:

    Please show me how you construe my recitation of historical fact as “an argument that there aren’t any racist democrats.” I said nothing of the kind.

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  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    So that’s why the Republicans have a lock on the white vote and the Democrats haven’t carried the white vote since LBJ. It’s really nothing to be proud of, you know.

    Maybe we don’t like communists and abortionists, maybe?