There’s one big problem with the GOP’s strategy of trying to attract more working-class whites
Thomas B. Edsall OUTLINES a demographic difficulty facing the Republican Party:
The dilemma of the Republican Party as it struggles to pick its way through the immigration minefield and build Hispanic support is further complicated by the fact that polling data suggests that the most fruitful source of new voters for the party’s candidates is not Hispanics, but the white working class. It is already a Republican constituency, but the discontent of these voters with the Obama administration has been growing sharply.
Demographic data on President Obama’s favorability ratings from January 2012 to July 2013, supplied to the Times by the Pew Center, shows that among white non-college voters, Obama’s positive ratings fell sharply, from an average of 35 percent in the first 10 polls to 26 percent in the survey last month. The nine-point drop was driven heavily by white non-college men, whose rating of Obama fell 11 points, from 33 percent to 22 percent. The decline among white non-college women was 36 to 30.
This stands in sharp contrast with Obama’s favorability rating among college-educated whites, which averaged 48 percent through all 11 Pew polls.
These trends have encouraged conservatives who want Republicans to reject immigration reform and Hispanic outreach — and to instead further mobilize white voters.
Ruy Teixeira, who specializes in analyzing political-demographic trends, has written perhaps the best description of the weaknesses of the white Republican strategy: the core target, the white working class, is “declining precipitously as a share of voters, down from 54 to 36 percent between 1988 and 2012.” At the same time, young white voters make up “the most liberal generation in the overall electorate by a considerable margin.”