Politico, the right-leaning political news media outlet, on Sunday published an analysis of the impending Obama re-election win, characterizing it as not a “broad mandate” because it will be built from “Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites.” Needless to say, the racially-charged analysis is raising many eyebrows in the world of politics and journalism.
And frankly, it feels racist.
— Matthew Elliot (@matttbastard) November 5, 2012
The piece, “Lessons learned from 2012,” written by Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei, insinuates that an Obama win built from minorities is a second-class citizen win, and a “liberal problem”:
Democrats have a liberal problem
If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.
A broad mandate this is not.
Josh Marshall, the wise editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, sarcastically responds:
Or to be more specific, Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really.
Marshall also points to his own May, 2008 comments:
There’s nothing wrong with studying these percentages in terms of demography. Nor is there anything wrong with Democratic strategists recognizing that their candidates need to win this or that percentage of white voters to win. But creeping in the shadows of these conversations about how Democrats can no longer manage to win the white vote and are only saved from political oblivion by running up big margins among African-Americans is a little disguised assumption that African-American votes are somehow second-rate.
Marshall is far from the only one to be taken aback by the Politico POV.
“It goes without question that, if President Obama wins reelection, he will have done so with one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee,” Jamelle Bouie at The American Prospect writes. “I expect Obama’s low support among white voters to become a bullet point in the inevitable conservative case against his ‘legitimacy’ should he win,” Bouie adds:
He will have won large majorities of women, young people, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.
To most observers, this narrow majority of voters represents a broad cross-section of the country. To Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, it’s a dangerously limited coalition. Why? Because it doesn’t include enough white people, and particularly, downscale white men.
“This is a not a new narrative,” Bouie continues:
After the 2008 election, when Obama became the first Democrat in 36 years to win a majority of the popular vote, conservative writer Byron York argued that if you excluded the African American vote, Obama wasn’t as popular as he looked. And just last week, another Politico reporter—James Hohmann—wrote that “white voters still matter,” as if they were some kind of marginalized group.
To a large degree, white Americans—and white men, in particular—are still treated as the “default” voter, for whom politicians must focus their appeals. When Mitt Romney held a rally with coal workers in Ohio, he was trying to “broaden his appeal.” When President Obama focuses on immigration and reproductive health—core issues for Latinos and women—he’s “pandering.”
Needless to say, small “p” politicos all over Twitter were large “P” Pissed.
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