Thomas F. Schaller has a provocatively titled Salon post “So Long White Boy,” in which he all but urges Democrats to write off the white male voter, or as the article subtitle asks “Could 2008 be the year that Democrats finally admit an old sweetheart is never coming back, and stop pandering to the white male voter?” Schaller trots out some interesting numbers to bolster his argument, including:
In 2004, according to New York Times exit polls, Democrat Kerry won 38 percent of the total white male vote, confirming a familiar pattern. Kerry’s share was basically the same that every Democratic presidential candidate has received since Michael Dukakis. In the four elections between 1988 and 2000, in fact, using New York Times exit poll results, the Democratic nominee won 36 percent, 37 percent, 38 percent and 36 percent, respectively, of votes cast by white men. Because white men cast between 33 and 36 percent of all votes in 2004, that means a mere 12 to 13 percentage points of Kerry’s 48 percent nationally came from white men — about one vote in four. Nevertheless, and despite running against an incumbent in the first post-Sept. 11 presidential election, Kerry still came within one state of winning the Electoral College. Four years earlier, Al Gore also came within one state of reaching the magical 270 electors, and actually won the popular vote nationally — while, like Kerry, receiving only about one-fourth of his support from white men.
Schaller concedes that Dems are still “competitive” among white women voters and that unionized white male voters are still pro-Democratic. He compares demographic trends and voting patterns for white male and African American voters and concludes:
Democrats are able to neutralize their white male voter problem with votes from African-Americans — even though the latter group is only about one-third the size of the former….today, the black vote fully compensates for the Democrats’ deficit among white men.
Schaller doesn’t say anything about what possible effect discontent over the Iraq war, GOP scandals or other issues may have on white male votes in ’08. And Democratic presidential candidates may be less eager than he to write off one out of four of their voters. But it’s an important article in terms of political strategy, and one which merits the attention of Dems concerned about the Party’s future.