Obama is fast losing white voters' supportWhich Republicans? Certainly not John McCain, the losing candidate.
His approval ratings with the crucial bloc have plunged since April. Strategists say the healthcare debate is largely to blame, but that's not the only reason.
By Peter Wallsten
After a summer of healthcare battles and sliding approval ratings for President Obama, the White House is facing a troubling new trend: The voters losing faith in the president are the ones he had worked hardest to attract.
New surveys show steep declines in Obama's approval ratings among whites — including Democrats and independents — who were crucial elements of the diverse coalition that helped elect the country's first black president.
Among white Democrats, Obamaâ€™s job approval rating has dropped 11 points since his 100-days mark in April, according to surveys by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. It has dropped by 9 points among white independents and whites over 50, and by 12 points among white women — all groups that will be targeted by both parties in next year's midterm elections.
"While Obama has a lock on African Americans, his support among white voters seems to be almost in a free fall," said veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse.
Strategists in both parties blame Obama's decline on growing discontent with his policy agenda, particularly after a month of often-rowdy debate over his proposed healthcare overhaul, in which some conservatives accused him of socialism. Obama's ratings seem likely to rise again if he wins passage of healthcare legislation this fall.
But the drop in support among whites also comes as some conservatives have stoked controversies that have the potential to further erode Obama's standing among centrists — including some controversies that resulted from White House stumbles.
One such episode came to a head Sunday when Van Jones, Obamaâ€™s green jobs czar, resigned after a week of criticism over past inflammatory statements and for signing onto conspiracy theories questioning whether the U.S. government played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks. A White House official acknowledged Sunday that Jones had been vetted less rigorously than other officials. ...
Pew first identified a slippage in white support immediately after a news conference in July, when Obama surprised many by saying that a white police officer had acted "stupidly" in arresting a black Harvard professor.
Still unclear is whether Obama's slide in the polls is due solely to his policies, or questions about his personal background or allegiances.
During the presidential campaign last fall, the nation's economic meltdown swamped any attempts by Republicans to portray Obama as having radical associations with figures such as his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
... One black congressman, Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), was quoted last week alleging that opposition to Obama's healthcare policies was "a bias, a prejudice, an emotional feeling."The basic question in all politics is: "Whose side are you on?" McCain and the media worked together to keep this profound question about Obama off the table during the election, but it inevitably re-emerges when complicated and expensive legislation like health is on the table. Is Obama pushing this 1,000 page bill for your benefit or somebody else's benefit? Whose side is he on?
Democratic pollster David Beattie conducted a survey last month in one competitive congressional district that found that more than a quarter of independents believed Obama had not proven his natural-born status. The same sentiment was expressed by nearly 6 in 10 Republican women — a group that Beattie said would be important for a Democratic victory.
He declined to name the district because the polling was private, but said that such questions about Obama's background seemed to be a "proxy" for voters' growing unease with Obama's ambitious agenda, which has included a potential push to create a government-sponsored health insurance plan.
"We're having an economic culture war," Beattie said.
The various conspiracy theories about Obama are attempts by thoroughly cowed people to raise questions about Obama without mentioning the fundamental one: Does he see his life's work as A Story of Race and Inheritance?
As I wrote last year in VDARE.com:
Many wild rumors have circulated about Barack Obama, such as
That he was really born in Kenya and thus isnâ€™t eligible to be President.
That he isnâ€™t black because his father was 7/8ths Arab.
That he is a practicing Muslim.
That his real father was a Communist poet, Frank Marshall Davis.
That Bill Ayers ghostwrote his 1995 autobiography Dreams from My Father.
And finally, the most popular and yet most self-evidently implausible rumor of all, assiduously promoted by Obamaâ€™s media handler David Axelrod:
that Obama refuses to be defined by his race, that he transcends race, that heâ€™s not interested in race, blah blah.
What do all these assertions have in common?
First, they betray a lack of awareness of the facts of Obamaâ€™s life.
Second, they tend to reflect the widespread desire among whites of all political stripes to not think about race anymore, and to imagine that Obama doesnâ€™t either.
In truth, the big secret about Obama is that thereâ€™s no secret: as Obama explains at vast length in his memoir, what he himself calls his â€?racial obsessionsâ€? have dominated his life.