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The Political Price of Silence

BDBlue's picture

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.

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Iphie's picture
Submitted by Iphie on

but I think that he's also in trouble specifically with Jewish women. I haven't read anything about it, and am going entirely on personal experience (and the fact that he's having problems with both Jews and women, so it kinda makes sense), but it's notable that when Kerry ran, his strong support amongst Jews was helped by his especially strong support of Jewish women; Jewish men, not so much.

The Solomon Project did an in-depth analysis of Jewish voting patterns in the 2004 election. Kerry got 75% of the Jewish vote, but

The report notes that one relatively strong Republican subgroup among Jews includes Jewish men under 30 years of age, who voted 35 percent for Bush in one survey. The report found that the strongest Democratic subgroups included Jewish women who were 60 years of age or older (who voted 90 percent for Kerry) and Jewish women under 30 years of age (who voted 88 percent for Kerry).

We also know that Obama has problems with older voters -- boy, sure doesn't seem likely that he's going to get anywhere near that 90% this time around.

There have been a number of stories recently about Obama's problems with Jews, and how losing support of 10-15% of Jewish voters could provide the losing margin in a number of states

Forman noted that while the poll gives both Democrats a solid majority of Jews, those figures show a drop of 15 to 20 percent of the Jewish vote going to the party as opposed to recent presidential elections.

“What does that drop of 15 to 20 percent mean?” he asked. “It means 180,000 votes in the state of Florida if we drop 20 percent. It means 35,000 votes in Ohio. God forbid New Jersey’s in play, 130,000 votes in New Jersey; 16,000 votes in the small state of Nevada; 25,000 votes in Colorado; 70,000 votes in Pennsylvania. I could go on and on.”

But nobody is talking about what portion of this loss in support with Jews is attributable to Jewish women -- I think a considerable amount.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

on demographics and their meanings, and heroic work it is; thank you BD for the mention, but credit should go where it is due. My POV is from a different angle than Paul's although it does lead to the same conclusion. My "work" is hardly of his caliber, certainly less sophisticated and no where near as subtle. Paul is Athos - or maybe Aramis, whatever - with a rapier; I am Ogg, with a club.

All I do with voter demographics, actually, is follow behind Paul repeating "What he said!" A person could not do better.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

its always good to have someone who can write explaining it.

and btw, you're last piece was brilliant -- not Ogg-like at all. It a about as complete a review of the various perspectives that one can look at the relative electability of Obama and Clinton possible.

If it wasn't so good, I would have ragged on you about saying that you see no difference between Clinton and Obama in terms of competence. ;-)

Submitted by lambert on

as an Independent. If I can get the card, I'll tear it up and send it in to the DNC. I still plan to vote for the Democrat Party's candidate, but my party left me.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

You're in good company, lambert. It seems to have left a lot of people.

I'm going to re-register, too. But first I have to figure out if it will make voting in California on June 3rd more of a pain in the ass or make it less likely my vote won't be counted. If so, I'll wait until after then. As for voting in November, Obama can still ask for my vote and he might get it. I've never really been a fan of third parties. But it's going to be very, very hard to vote for him when it could've been very, very easy.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

Last thing you want is to screw with your paperwork right now. A while back I switched precincts close to an election, did the paperwork all in time but when I showed up at the polling place indicated on the paperwork I received at my new address my name still wasn't on the rolls.

Provisional ballot, half a dozen earnest but bewildered retirement home escapees milling around, finally convinced them to drag out the rule book from under the desk where they had forgotten they'd put it and sorted out the proceedure, but still. I should have just lied and voted in the old precinct.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Thanks for reaffirming it. No way I'm taking any chance my vote against Bill Johnson won't count.

bringiton's picture
Submitted by bringiton on

In a sad, perverse way. Average apparent age, I kid you not, 90. Two were in wheelchairs. One never said anything, just watched the conversational ball bouncing around like he was at a tennis match. Filed it away in my mental notebook for a scene in a movie script, working title: Old Farts. Cinéma-vérité, kind of like Cocoon but without the heart-warming, uplifting parts.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Sometimes I think I should volunteer just so they have someone there who can hear. I've watched the provisional ballot dance and it isn't pretty, although it's every bit as entertaining when it isn't your ballot. There were a lot of whats? being uttered if I recall correctly and a lot of younger people standing around trying to explain the rules to the poll workers.

"A provisional ballot?"


"A provisional ballot?"


"I think he wants one of those things," one of them chimes in and points to box under table.

I still can't get over that I vote in a garage here in California. Not a school or some civic building, someone's garage.

Submitted by PA_Lady on

When I became the minority inspector of my precinct* in Nov 2005, the director of our county election board told me I was the youngest elected poll worker she had, by about 25 years - and I'm 39.

Luckily, my co-officials are pretty with it, and we have no problems with hearing or understanding provisional requests, etc. And they think I'm a genius for knowing how to remove the memory cards once the polls close. :)

- - -
* Watch out when family members live in your voting district - they'll put your name in any blank space. No one was running for the job, so I won with two whole votes.

orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

i ain't votin' for nobody but clinton.

i ain't votin' for some guy who has put in 55 days a year in the illinois senate and who sat on his butt for two years in the u.s senate

to be the president

of my country.

i ain't that dumb.