Is Obama’s Coalition Re-Emerging?

Ronald Brownstein, National Journal, February 6, 2012

One striking aspect of the new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday is how closely the internal results of its head-to-head match-up between President Obama and Mitt Romney track Obama’s performance against John McCain in 2008. Overall, the poll found Obama leading Romney in a 2012 match up by 51 percent to 45 percent among registered voters. It was the first time the survey had shown Obama (or Romney) crossing the 50 percent threshold against the other in a series of ballot tests since last spring.

Looking below the top-line numbers, the survey found the electorate dividing along lines almost identical to the actual results in 2008, according to figures provided by ABC pollster Gary Langer, the President of Langer Research Associates.

In 2008, Obama carried a combined 80 percent of minority voters; the ABC/Washington Post survey shows him drawing 81 percent of non-white voters against Romney (who attracts just 14 percent).

In 2008, Obama carried 43 percent of whites, while McCain won 55 percent of them. The new survey shows Romney leading Obama among whites 53 percent to 42 percent. The ABC/Post poll shows Obama holding his ground both among whites with and without a college education. In 2008, Obama won 40 percent of non-college whites, while 58 percent of them voted for McCain. In the new survey, those working-class whites-the toughest audience for Obama throughout his national career-break in virtually identical proportions: 56 percent for Romney, 39 percent for the president.

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On all these fronts, the survey shows Obama regaining ground that he had largely surrendered in ballot tests (and his job approval numbers) since late 2009. The gains might be temporary, driven by the confluence of good economic news and a highly bruising period in the Republican presidential primary that has sent Romney’s unfavorable ratings soaring in recent weeks. But on the other side of the ledger, it’s worth remembering that if the minority share of the total vote increases in 2012 at the same pace it has grown since 1992, and Obama holds just-three-fourths of those voters, he could win a national majority with as little as 40 percent of the white vote. {snip}

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