How Democrats Won the White Working Class in Ohio, This Month

CINCINNATI - MARCH 17: A union member wears a mock employee’s vest to protest a speech Wal-Mart President and CEO Thomas Coughlin was making to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick March 17, 2003 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the U.S., but only 30 percent of its employees have insurance. (Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images) Photo by Mike Simons/Getty Images

David Dayen, who you should really be reading every day, points me back to two elections in which Democrats fought for the white working class and won them. Exhibit A: Wisconsin, where Democrats powered out two recall wins in Senate races in suburban/exurban districts. Exhibit B, which some nice hard data: Ohio, where Democrats overturned John Kasich’s union law reform, despite being outspent on the airwaves. Issue 2 failed with 61 percent of the state voting “no.” Among white working class voters, “no” got the same result – 61 percent.


What does that mean for the Obama 2012 strategy? Good question! Obama did not get involved in either race. Democrats and unions made the elections about fairness, and the rights of rugged firefighters and cops to bargain for benefits. Now, Obama isn’t the only Democrat who’d been eating turf in Ohio. In 2010, Gov. Ted Strickland went down while losing whites without college degrees by 14 points, and whites making under $50,000 by 15 points. Obama had only lost the first group by 10 points and he’d won the second group by 4 points. Victory for Obama in Ohio means some combination of maxing out minority votes and and cutting losses with whites. And in 2011, liberals not only cut losses – they won whites! Just not in a way that’s easy for candidates to repeat.