Gallup headlines: Obama Approval Drops Among Working-Class Whites. Here, “working class” includes all non-college graduates, some 60-65% of the adult white population. Gallup’s chart shows President Obama’s approval rating among white college graduates and non-college graduates from the beginning of his administration to the end of October. His 27% approval rating among non-college graduates is indeed striking:
But perhaps more important is Obama’s steep decline within that demographic. Since he took office, Obama’s approval rating has dropped 13 points among college-educated whites, but a remarkable 21 points among the non-college educated. Why the difference?
Our liberal friends, contemptuous of working-class whites as always, will say it is because Obama is black. But that is wrong: we are talking about the decline among those who approved of Obama when he was newly-elected. They didn’t become racists over the last six years. What did happen? They bore the brunt of Obama’s failed economic policies.
The Obama administration has been bad for higher-income Americans, but not disastrous. Quantitative easing has re-inflated the stock market, and middle-aged “knowledge workers” have suffered less than other groups. But for the working class, there is nothing good to be said about Obamanomics: high unemployment, a scarcity of full-time work, skyrocketing prices of food and fuel, more expensive health care, anemic economic growth, and wage decline caused in part by competition with unprecedented numbers of legal and illegal immigrants. What’s to like? Nothing. I think the Obama economy accounts for the steeper decline in his approval among non-college graduates.
Why is this bad news for Hillary Clinton? Because Obama’s economy has been even worse for minority members of the working class than for whites. The only reason why African-Americans and Hispanics express a higher opinion of Obama than whites is that, understandably, they see him as their guy. If they responded to pollsters in a manner consistent with their actual experience of Obamanomics, the president’s overall approval would be in the basement.
When Hillary runs in 2016 as the heir of Obama’s liberal economic and immigration policies, she will not have that built-in advantage with minorities. There is no reason why any substantial number of working-class people, white or minority, would wish for another four years of Obama’s policies. Nor–to put it delicately–is there anything about Hillary’s persona that will endear her to the majority of such voters.
So I think we can expect a backlash against Obama’s economic and immigration policies in 2016 that will take pundits–not to mention Hillary–by surprise.
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