The Political Price of Silence
As Paul and Bringiton have documented, exit polls and voting results since March have shown that Obama has lost support among a wide array of demographic blocs. Despite the talk of Unity, Obama has done little to reach out to women and working class whites, two core groups of Clinton's supporters.*
What's worse is that Democratic Party leaders have sat silently while the Clinton wing of the party has been demonized. Despite the incredible levels of misogyny spewing forth from the media about Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other "leaders" have been largely silent. It seems there is nothing the media can say about Hillary Clinton that will bring any Party leader to her defense. When the media over the weekend suggested, at the Obama campaign's urging, that Hillary wanted Obama assassinated, the Party again said nothing. Apparently it is unconcerned that Obama's actions and its silence might alienate Clinton voters, particularly women. Unity has its limits.
Now comes evidence that perhaps sitting silently while the media spews sexist hatred and lies about a popular democrat might not be good politics. Via Talk Left, here's the latest Pew findings (emphasis mine):
Obama's favorable rating among voters has slipped eight points since late February, from 59% to 51% in the current survey. When those who express an unfavorable opinion are asked what they do not like about Obama, most (54%) cite his political beliefs. But nearly a third (32%) either mention the kind of person Obama is, or say their unfavorable views are influenced both by the kind of person he is and his political beliefs. White working class voters are among the most likely to mention the kind of person Obama is as a reason for their unfavorable opinion of him.
Obama's slipping image is in some measure a negative reaction from frustrated Clinton supporters. Currently, just 46% of those who support Clinton for the nomination say the party will unite behind Obama if he is the nominee. In March, 58% of Clinton supporters said the party would rally behind Obama if he is the nominee.
Recent declines in Obama's image have been pronounced among whites - especially white women. Currently, just 43% of white women express a positive opinion of Obama, down from 56% in late February.
Favorable opinions of Obama among independent voters, who have provided him strong support in several of his primary election victories, also have declined over the course of the campaign. Obama's favorable ratings among this pivotal group have fallen from 62% in late February to just 49% in the current poll.
Obama's diminished popularity and support among white women may in part be an indication of a growing backlash against him among Clinton's women supporters. The survey finds that as many 39% of Clinton's female supporters believe that her gender has hurt her candidacy. In turn, favorable opinions of Obama have tumbled among women who support Clinton - from 58% in March to 43% currently. By contrast, there has been a slight increase in positive views of Obama over this period among men who support Clinton (from 42% in March to 47% currently).
Of course, Clinton will be blamed for this. Not the sexist dogwhistles or the dismissive condescension of repeatedly calling women "sweetie" or the silence by Obama and Democratic leaders in the face of an onslaught of misogyny. Nope, this is all going to be blamed on the bitch for not quitting.
So now Harry and Nancy and Howard will step in and "end" this so that they can "unite" the party for November. Funny, but I'm not sure after failing to lead for months, a lot of Democrats are going to care what they think.
You can find the full Pew results, here.
* NOTE: Personally, I do not consider "reaching out" to include sending surrogates out to bash and lie about Clinton or paint an entire region of the country as "racists." I also do not consider it to be reaching out to me to simply threaten me with the overturning of Roe v. Wade if I don't get on board the Unity train.