Everybody Counts

Matt Bai writes about Barack Obama’s attempts “to persuade working-class and rural white guys that he is not the elitist, alien figure they may be inclined to think he is.”

There’s nothing wrong with looking at that subject, of course. But it’s curious to me that the press often seems to act as if working-class (defined as lacking college degrees) white men get triple votes or something. Slice the population up according to white and non-white. According to male and female. And according to college and non-college. Well, white people are more conservative than non-white people. And male people are more conservative than female people. And college graduates are less conservative than those who lack college degrees. Thus, when you look at white men who haven’t graduated from college, you’re looking at an extremely conservative group of people relative to the population at large. When you add on additional adjectives like “gun-toting” and/or “churchgoing” you’re looking at an even more conservative subset of the population. At the end of the day, it’s inevitable that a Democrat is going to lose this demographic.


Now margins matter, of course. Losing white working class men by 25 points isn’t the same as losing them by 20 points. But margins count for other groups. Getting 95 percent of the black vote is better than getting 85 percent of the black vote. Winning white women by four points is better than losing white women by two points.