Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Ruy Teixeira has responded to critics who claim his recent report on President Obama's reelection strategy suggests that Obama should abandon the white working class. At The New Republic Teixeira writes:
In reality, we do not argue that the Obama campaign needs to choose between, say, white working class and white college graduate voters, or between states like Ohio and Virginia. These are false choices.
The data in the report show why this is so. Take white working class voters. We note in the report that this demographic is declining as a share of voters and that, given the typically poor performance of Democratic presidents among this group, this ongoing demographic decline should benefit Obama. It also means that Obama can win the presidency with a larger deficit among these voters than prior Democratic campaigns, including his own victory in 2008. This is a simple recognition of electoral reality, not a call to “abandon” these voters. In fact, given the political proclivities of these voters and the current economic situation, Obama will have to fight hard to keep his deficit with this group at manageable levels (say, in the low twenties). This means Obama should pay a lot of attention to these voters and I predict that he will.
But if he does so, does that mean he will have to abandon white college graduate voters or minorities? This is equally silly.
Is it so silly? Teixeira spends the rest of the post reiterating that "a lost white working class vote hurts you just as much as a lost white college graduate or minority vote." But he never acknowledges the existence of any issues that divide this coalition. Instead, he just says Obama should "focus" on all of them.
But often public policy can be a zero sum game between constituent groups. Take the Keystone XL pipeline which, according to the AFL-CIO, will create "20,000 immediate private sector jobs that do not rely on any government funding." More jobs through increased energy infrastructure is a big issue for the white working class. They want those jobs.
But Obama's "millennials" and "college graduates" who sympathize with environmental activists (or as the AFL-CIO calls them, "Hollywood celebrities") were against the pipeline. Hundreds of Obama voters were arrested outside the White House protesting the pipeline.
And what did Obama do? He chose to abandon the white working class, ordering the State Department to do another environmental impact statement, thus effectively killing the project.