On the day after Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008, veteran Democratic pollster Stanley B. Greenberg described the modern Democratic coalition as diverse America and the whites who are comfortable with diverse America.
That appears to be even more true today. The line between whites who are comfortable with the racial and ethnic change transforming America into a “world nation” and those uneasy about it increasingly looks like one of the most important boundaries of the 2012 campaign.
The big Pew Center for the People and the Press generational survey released last week offers powerful evidence on that point. Overall, in the Pew survey, 47 percent of non-Hispanic whites agreed with the statement that “the growing number of newcomers from other countries are a threat to traditional American customs and values.” Exactly 50 percent of whites disagreed.
Like an Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor survey released earlier this summer, Pew found that whites comfortable with the demographic changes now underway express very different attitudes than those uneasy about it on President Obama, the role of government, and the choices in the 2012 election.
Among the whites who find the increasing number of newcomers troubling, Obama’s approval rating in the new Pew survey stood at just 21 percent with 70 percent disapproving. The president runs much more strongly among whites comfortable with the changes: 45 percent of them approved, while 47 percent disapproved.
[Editor’s Note: The full Pew study is available here.]