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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama Coalition Regathering

It’s beginning to look like the naysayers predicting the demise of the coalition that elected President Obama in 2008 were wrong, reports Ronald Brownstein in the National Journal. Brownstein notes a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, which indicates that Obama now leads Romney 51-45 percent, with top-line data indicating that the electorate is “dividing along lines almost identical to the actual results in 2008.” Brownstein adds:

In 2008, Obama carried a combined 80 percent of minority voters; the ABC/Washington Post survey shows him drawing 81 percent of non-white voters against Romney (who attracts just 14 percent).
In 2008, Obama carried 43 percent of whites, while McCain won 55 percent of them. The new survey shows Romney leading Obama among whites 53 percent to 42 percent. The ABC/Post poll shows Obama holding his ground both among whites with and without a college education. In 2008, Obama won 40 percent of non-college whites, while 58 percent of them voted for McCain. In the new survey, those working-class whites-the toughest audience for Obama throughout his national career-break in virtually identical proportions: 56 percent for Romney, 39 percent for the president.”

Brownstein describes it as “a modest, but important, rebound for Obama’s job approval rating among those non-college whites,” and he quotes Greg Sargent: “Obama’s approval rating among these [blue-collar] voters is 43-54. While those numbers don’t appear too good at first glance…This is his best level among non-college whites since early last year (excluding the post-Bin Laden bump), and they are far better than they were at their lowest point in 2010, when Democrats suffered massive desertions among this constituency.” Obama also matches and slightly improves on his ’08 percentage of college-educated whites. Further, adds Brownstein:

Viewed through a partisan lens, the ABC/Post survey shows Obama winning 85 percent of Democrats (compared to 89 percent in 2008), 8 percent of Republicans (compared to 9 percent) and 48 percent of independents (up from 44 percent). One other convergence is worth noting. In the ABC/Post poll, Obama has essentially restored the advantage among moderates that he enjoyed against McCain. In 2008, Obama carried 60 percent of moderates; the new survey puts him at 59 percent against Romney. (In the new poll, Obama runs slightly ahead of his 2008 number among conservatives and slightly behind it among liberals, two trends that might not last in the heat of an ideologically-polarized campaign.)

Brownstein concedes that “The gains might be temporary, driven by the confluence of good economic news and a highly bruising period in the Republican presidential primary that has sent Romney’s unfavorable ratings soaring in recent weeks.” Yet Brownstein also argues that Obama “could win a national majority with as little as 40 percent of the white vote…he can give back some of the terrain he’s recaptured in this latest survey – and still hold the high ground in November.”

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