For all the somewhat vague talk about “white working class” voters, the more specific issue facing Barack Obama concerns older white people. The initial battle lines of an Obama-McCain fight feature a level of age polarization that’s really unusual. Andrew Kohut, Jonathan Alter, and J.P. Green all have interesting commentary on this.
I would only add that this kind of consideration, combined with Obama’s lead over McCain in the polls is fundamentally what makes me optimistic about his chances in November. There’s no telling how many McCainiac seniors will be swayed by the Obama campaign pointing out that McCain has spent years waging war on Social Security and Medicare and basically thinks everyone should get on the “marry a wealthy heiress” retirement plan, but it’s going to be more than zero people. Seniors have already hears a good deal of the sort of culture war attacks on Obama that are likely to be the biggest thing driving them toward McCain, but they’ve heard essentially nothing of the retirement policy attacks on McCain that are likely to be the biggest thing driving them toward Obama. Consequently, Obama’s senior deficit is very big. But he’s winning anyway, and though he’ll probably never close the senior gap he’ll almost certainly narrow it.