The Democratic Party is getting its clock cleaned with White working class voters in the Midwest and Appalachia. The following quote from Michael Podhorzer, assistant political director of the AFL-CIO, cuts straight to the heart of the matter:
“With working-class, non-union whites, the bottom has fallen out. That’s a big factor in the change of fortunes of the Democrats. From 2006 to 2008 Democrats had rebounded with white working-class voters, but since the election, they’re the largest group that’s dropped very sharply. I think it’s the bad economy and the sense that the rich have weathered the economic crisis well, and that they haven’t. Among union members, the Republican message has not garnered traction, but there is demoralization and lack of recognition of how serious the Republican threat is. … There’s a lack of enthusiasm about everything.”
Why is it so hard to state the obvious?
Once a “bedrock of Democratic support” under FDR, the White working class has steadily been pushed out of the Democratic Party by its embrace of job killing “free trade” agreements and the noxious, anti-White progressive social agenda. Even at the height of Obamamania, McCain carried this key swing demographic by almost twenty points, roughly matching the dismal performance of Gore and Kerry who watched their careers go down in flames.
Remember Al Gore’s laughable return to Tennessee (when he got fat and grew a beard) to “mend fences?” How long did that last? What happened to Tipper?
In some ways, Obama’s decline in popularity is reminiscent of John Kerry. If Kerry had won in 2004, I suspect his political fortunes would have followed a similar downward trajectory. Like Kerry, Obama comes across as an aloof, holier-than-thou, know-it-all elitist with communist sympathies like his father. He is radically out of touch and unsympathetic to the concerns of ordinary White working people in the American Heartland.
The last two presidents were able to successfully blunt this perception and win reelection in this region: Bill Clinton with his affable, common touch could relate to the Bubbas and won Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisiana in 1996; George W. Bush with his inarticulate, folksy photo-ops clearing brush out on the ranch was sympathetic to the same constituency and won all those states in 2004.
Obama’s predicament is far worse than Bill Clinton’s in 1994.
Clinton had the advantage of being a genuine White Southerner with a working class background. He could convincingly play the role of a warm centrist when the loss of Congress forced him into that role. He also had the advantage of running against Bob Dole, a handpicked establishment candidate with a wooden personality, who lacked the political wind at his back of an explosive social movement like the Tea Party.
Clinton hadn’t raised expectations to the moon either. The economy recovered and he was able to reap the political dividends of balancing the budget. The fiscal anxieties that have animated the Tea Party were allayed in his second term.
Barack Obama is looking at a total meltdown like Jimmy Carter. He is underwater in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine. Whereas Bill Clinton won West Virginia, Obama has such a negative approval rating there that the GOP is planting campaign signs that simply say, “Obama Wants You To Vote Democrat.” His negatives are through the roof all the way down the spine of the Scot-Irish belt and he is effectively weighing down popular candidates like Joe Manchin.
Can you imagine Barack Obama rolling up the sleeves of a flannel shirt or going hunting in the woods of West Virginia? He would look even more ridiculous than John Kerry. It is a fantasy to imagine him reconnecting with these voters when he lost that constituency even before he had a record to run on.
Obama was carried through the 2008 Democratic primary and the presidential election on a bubble: a cult of personality, millenarianism, and Bush fatigue that has since burst like a supernova. The wreckage can now be seen strewn across the political landscape in a White revolt that stretches from Fargo, ND to Buffalo, NY.
Having lost the White Center, Obama is now desperately trying to rev up what’s left of the Democratic Party, namely the blacks, Hispanics, gays, women, and young people who voted for him. This strategy has failed miserably in 2010 and could produce even worse results in 2012.
The majority of Americans already believe that Barack Obama should be a one term president. Unless the Republicans fumble spectacularly after winning control of Congress, I don’t see this perception changing, especially among the constituency that both Bush and Clinton needed to win, which Al Gore and John Kerry lost, and which Obama is set to lose by even wider margins in 2012.