Maybe Some People Just Don’t Like Obama

Ron Brownstein did an interesting column looking at the skeptical views held by white people who haven’t gone to college of Barack Obama’s policies. They don’t much care for Affordable Care Act:

And yet, polling just before the bill’s approval showed that most white Americans believed that the legislation would primarily benefit the uninsured and the poor, not people like them. In a mid-March Gallup survey, 57 percent of white respondents said that the bill would make things better for the uninsured, and 52 percent said that it would improve conditions for low-income families. But only one-third of whites said that it would benefit the country overall — and just one-fifth said that it would help their own family.

He also ads that they don’t much care for economic recovery measures:

Obama has already been hurt by the perception, fanned by Republicans, that the principal beneficiaries of his efforts to repair the economy are the same interests that broke it: Wall Street, big banks, and the wealthy. The belief that Washington has transferred benefits up the income ladder is pervasive across society but especially pronounced among white voters with less than a college education, the group that most resisted Obama in 2008. Now health care could threaten Democrats from the opposite direction by stoking old fears, particularly among the white working class, that liberals are transferring income down the income ladder to the “less deserving.”


Brownstein notes that all this spells trouble for Democrats. And it does. But I think it’s important to find the most plausible story about cause and effect. When Obama does one thing, these folks say he’s only helping rich people. When Obama does something else, these folks say he’s only helping poor people. And since Obama is only helping poor people and rich people, they don’t like Obama! That doesn’t seem very likely to me. More plausibly, we’re talking about a group that doesn’t like Barack Obama and that has come to like him even less as economic conditions deteriorate. Consequently, they view his initiatives skeptically and are inclined to believe the worst about them.