Amidst the torrent of anti-white press coverage surrounding the Tea Parties and Obamacare protests, Albany's Times Union has published a fair account of Obama's white male problem. In "White men shun Democrats," David Paul Kuhn eschews knee-jerk accusations of "racism" and instead outlines the statistical evidence and aims to find a race-neutral explanation for Obama's declining support among white men. In doing so he gets the issue about 50% right; he leaves race out of the white side of the equation but refuses to acknowledge the impact race has on Obama and his agenda.
Kuhn outlines the looming midterm crisis the Democrats face:
For more than three decades before the 2008 election, no Democratic president had won a majority of the electorate. In part, that was because of low support -- never more than 38 percent -- among white male voters. Things changed with Obama, who not only won a majority of all people voting, but also pulled in 41 percent of white male voters.
Polling suggests that the shift was not because of Obama but because of the financial meltdown that preceded the election. It was only after the economic collapse that Obama's white male support climbed above the 38 percent ceiling. It was also at that point that Obama first sustained a clear majority among all registered voters, according to the Gallup tracking poll.
It's no accident that the flight of white males from the Democratic Party has come as the government has assumed a bigger role, including in banking and health care. Among whites, 71 percent of men and 56 percent of women favor a smaller government with fewer services over a larger government with more services, according to ABC/Washington Post polling.
So, despite what many have said, Obama's unprecedented success among white men can be largely attributed to the political circumstances of the 2008 election and John McCain's shortcomings as a viable alternative, not his status as "post-racial." On the prominent issues at the time (economic stimulus and creating jobs) Obama and McCain were virtually identical, as they were on another issue that plays well with "angry white men," immigration. White guilt and the manufactured willingness to "look past race" and elect a black man certainly played a role, but this was no doubt aided by liberal-warmonger McCain and his policy prescriptions.
Kuhn diagnoses the problem as primarily socio-economic:
Obama's brand of liberalism is exactly the sort likely to drive such voters away. More like LBJ's than FDR's, Obama-style liberalism favors benefits over relief, a safety net over direct job programs, health care and environmental reform over financial reform and a stimulus package that has focused more on social service jobs -- health care work, teaching and the like -- than on the areas where a majority of job losses occurred: construction, manufacturing and related sectors.
Think about the average working man. He has already seen financial bailouts for the rich folks above him. Now he sees a health care bailout for the poor folks below him. Big government represents lots of costs and little gain.
Despite the commendable effort by Kuhn, he seems intent on dancing around the impact race has on Obama's agenda, attributing it instead to the simple shortcomings of liberal dogma. Yet even Kuhn admits that, during FDR's socialist expansions of the state, "[white] men never doubted that FDR was trying to do right by them." The inverse, of course, is that white men feel that Obama is not doing right by them.
All Kuhn needs to do to see the racial undercurrent of this conflict is ask, as Ravilla did, "Cui bono?" Who benefited from the bank bailout? Lenders who were given state incentives to loan to minorities who couldn't make good on the deals. Who benefits from Obamacare? The overwhelmingly black and Hispanic portion of the uninsured population, and the illegals who Obama now hopes to make citizens.
So, while Kuhn deserves credit for recognizing the racial undertones of Obama's declining numbers without descending into anti-white paranoia, he still misses the racial nature of Obama's agenda, and in doing so he still misses the point.