Political Animal


February 22, 2013 11:54 AM Obama’s Wedge Issues and Achilles Heel

By Ed Kilgore

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein takes a long look at the latest national survey from the new polling partnership USAToday/Pew, and discovers, unsurprisingly, that Obama’s 2012 voter coalition likes his current agenda in pretty much the same proportions as they supported him last November. There are even some “wedge” issues he’s exploiting:

Solid majorities of noncollege and older whites, for instance, backed the minimum-wage increase. Even noncollege whites and college-educated white men would stress renewable energy over fossil-fuel development. The assault-weapons ban generated substantial majority support from the college-educated white men, noncollege white women, and older whites. Background checks on sales at gun shows won support from over three-fourths of every group analyzed, including noncollege white men.

But as was the case during much of his first term, Obama does have an achilles heel: one element of his coalition, under-30 whites, isn’t jazzed about his economic leadership and could defect if the economy doesn’t improve:

While about two-thirds of African-Americans gave him positive marks for his economic performance, they were joined by only 52 percent of Hispanics, 44 percent of college-educated white women—and, most notably, just 40 percent of all adults ages 18 to 29 and only 31 percent of younger whites. Indeed, Obama’s economic approval rating among all whites stood at a microscopic 31 percent.

Given the job prospects of young Americans right now, there’s nothing surprising about those numbers, but Obama’s status with this constituency bears watching, particularly in the unlikely event that the GOP comes up with an actual economic agenda and keeps The Crazy under wraps for a while.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Gandalf on February 22, 2013 12:13 PM:

    Well now Ed we get to the crux of the issue. Isn't this what it's all about for the republicans? They figure we'll just inflict as much economic pain that surely people will see the light and vote for us.

  • golack on February 22, 2013 5:22 PM:

    or don't keep the crazy under wraps...
    Crash the economy, blame Obama--it's his watch--and maybe get other generation of angry white men into their party

  • arkie on February 23, 2013 2:34 AM:

    I'm a 60 year old white male (and a retired Army officer on top of that) and I would give Obama poor marks on his economic performance. He has been too timid. Basically, he's a Republican Lite. See Paul Krugman for details.

  • alwaysiamcaesar on February 24, 2013 7:19 AM:

    O gotta go with arkie .