AP-GfK Poll: Working-Class Whites Shun Dems

Alan Fram, My Way News, October 6, 2010

Desperate for jobs and cool toward President Barack Obama, working-class whites are flocking to Republicans, turning a group long wary of Democrats into an even bigger impediment to the party’s drive to keep control of Congress.

An Associated Press-GfK poll shows whites without four-year college degrees preferring GOP candidates by twice the margin of the last two elections, when Democrats made significant gains in the House and Senate. The poll, conducted last month, found this group favoring GOP hopefuls 58 percent to 36 percent–a whopping 22 percentage-point gap.

In 2008, when Obama won the presidency, they favored GOP congressional candidates by 11 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters. When Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006, the Republican edge was 9 percentage points.

Compared with better-educated whites, working-class whites tend to be older and more conservative–groups that traditionally lean Republican and are uneasy with the young president’s activist governing. Their wariness is reinforced by a prolonged economic funk that has disproportionately hurt the working class and shown scant signs of improvement under Obama and Congress’ majority Democrats.

Though accustomed to trailing among working-class whites, Democrats can hardly afford further erosion from a group that accounts for about 4 in 10 voters nationally. Their GOP preference is in contrast to whites with college degrees, who the AP-GfK Poll shows are split evenly between the two parties’ candidates, and to minorities, who decisively back Democrats.

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They are likelier than better-educated whites to dislike Obama personally and are more negative about his leadership. Over half say he doesn’t understand ordinary Americans’ problems. They are also likelier to disapprove of Obama’s performance as president, including more than two-thirds who are unhappy with his stewardship of the economy.

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To appeal to them, Obama has used nationally televised chats in people’s backyards to emphasize his efforts to lift the economy. {snip}

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