There is a new report out that demonstrates, beyond the nasty name calling, how President Obama plans to get reelected: Galvanize everyone who is not a white working class voter, while trying not to lose too many working class white voters.
Obama’s demographic strategy is neatly summed up in the new analysis, which is from the Center for American Progress, the Democratic political think tank where all Obama’s aides will go to work if he loses the election. That is, CAP and the Obama campaign are assuredly on the same page.
The authors of the piece, John Halpin and Ruy Teixiera, argue that Obama is in a race to maintain his motley coalition of voters while trying not to allow what is essentially the Reagan coalition of working class whites to sink him.
While Obama’s minions have lost their enthusiasm, their raw numbers are growing, potentially saving him.
The central questions of the election are thus fairly straightforward. Will the rising electorate of communities of color, the Millennial generation, professionals, single women, and seculars that pushed Obama to victory in 2008 be sufficient and mobilized enough to ensure his re-election in 2012? Or will the Republican Party and its presidential nominee capitalize on a struggling economy and greater mobilization from a conservative base that holds the president in deep disdain?
Among whites, a key battle will be for the college and graduate school educated.
On the national level, given solid, but not exceptional, performance among minority voters, Obama’s re-election depends on either holding his 2008 white college-graduate support, in which case he can survive a landslide defeat of 2010 proportions among white working-class voters, or holding his slippage among both groups to around 2004 levels, in which case he can still squeak out a victory.
With Obama focusing on the relative have-nots, the recipe calls for class warfare.
Obama’s recent steps to define the election on more progressive terms through a commitment to a new jobs and growth program and a deficit reduction plan based on “shared sacrifice” will likely aid the president politically. Public polling over the past year suggests that a sustained posture of defending the middle class, supporting popular government programs, and calling for a more equitable tax distribution will be popular among many key demographic groups necessary to win in the 12 battleground states analyzed here.
In case you’re missing the point, I’ll translate some of it for you: “Shared sacrifice” means taxing the rich; “defending the middle class” means bashing the rich; and “supporting popular government programs” means promising more welfare spending to your base.
With the rising population of voting age Latinos, this may be the last election in which Republicans can count on the old Reagan coalition to capture the White House. They either need to start a massive, expensive, and sustained program to popularize their agenda with Hispanics – in some ways a culturally conservative group – or they need to hope scientific advances allow them to start cloning adult working class white people by the year 2016.