In recent weeks, Eric Earling has been making the case that Barack Obama has a problem winning votes among “white, hard-working” Americans. Around the time of the Pennsylvania primaries, I and a few others tried to explain to him in the comments that he was mistakenly extrapolating a local trend in a way that doesn’t translate across the entire country. Having lived in several regions of this country (and having grown up mostly in Pennsylvania), I’m rather familiar with the fact that rural Pennsylvania is very, very different from rural Texas or rural Wisconsin or rural Idaho. But now that this erroneous belief has been finding its way into Hillary Clinton’s talking points, some more people are starting to dig into its inaccuracy.
Daily Kos diarist DHinMI posted up on Monday with a series of charts showing the counties where Obama or Clinton won 65% of the vote. The top map is where Obama won 65% of the vote and the bottom map is where Clinton won 65% of the vote:
These maps show that despite Earling’s claim that Obama’s support is coming solely from urban areas, he’s winning overwhelmingly among Democrats in some very rural, very white parts of the country. Obama’s problem, which is stunningly illustrated by the second map above, is with Appalachia, a part of the country with its own unique culture and political history. Josh Marshall discusses it here, and Jonathan Tilove adds to the analysis here, reinforcing my belief that Jim Webb would be an awesome VP choice for Obama.
Going back to the overall point, Greg Sargent looks into the recent Quinnipiac poll to show that the notion that Hillary does better against McCain among working class white voters (those without a college degree) is pure fiction. Hillary and Obama each have their weaknesses among certain subsets of white America, but despite that, both of them are polling ahead of McCain in a head-to-head matchup (and those polls aren’t even factoring in Bob Barr, who’s able to get airtime on the Fox Business Channel). Considering this nation’s past when it comes to racism, it’s easy to get nervous about the prospects of the first African-American candidate to win a major party nomination, but the facts just don’t back up the notion that rural, or even less educated white voters won’t vote for Obama.