Pundits often note that Romney cannot win with his current level of Hispanic support. That's likely true. But so is the converse: Obama cannot win with his level of white support unless white swing voters withhold their votes from Romney as well.
Today, fewer whites back Obama than any Democratic candidate since Walter Mondale. Romney does not need to emulate Ronald Reagan to win. Should he match Reagan’s share of the white vote in 1984 -- presuming all else remains constant since 2008 -- Romney would rout Obama.
Of course, America has changed since Reagan. Non-Hispanic whites were 89 percent of the electorate when Reagan first won the White House in 1980. They were 85 percent in 1988. By 2008, whites were 74 percent. That shift has upended the electoral landscape. But only so much.
Take Michael Dukakis’ fate as an example. In 1988, George H.W. Bush’s margin of victory exceeded Obama’s in 2008. But if Obama’s level of white support in 2012 equals Dukakis’, and all else remains the same from 2008, Obama would likely narrowly win. He would lack a mandate and risk immediate lame-duck status. But he would survive with white support that once sundered Democrats.
Unless . . .
What if Obama doesn't even match Dukakis with whites? That’s the dynamic of 2012. This electorate has a white floor. And it has broken for this president. Democrats cannot depend on demographics to save them.
So, if you're wondering why a bunch of red states have passed laws designed to make it harder for urban and poor voters to vote (many of which are non-whites) then you probably haven't been paying attention to this blog for the last 3 years. Is there anything Obama can do, pray tell? Kuhn isn't saying, you'd have to buy his book on why white men are the neglected victims of politics.
And to Kuhn, it's too late for Obama, of course. Dooooooooooooooom.
In 2010, whites backed GOP House candidates by a 60-38 margin. It gave Republicans a historic landslide. The white margin two years ago roughly matches the break-even point today. That’s because presidential electorates are browner and blacker, though possibly not enough for Democrats. Plainly put, the data shows that Romney will likely win if he matches his party’s minority support in 2008 and its majority support in 2010.
So if Romney gets more votes than McCain did in 2008, he could win. What trenchant analysis. White people hate Obama more than Michael Dukakis now? What's happened in the last 3 years or so to make that happen, one has to wonder. Stock market's up. Unemployment is down. But white men overwhelmingly turned on the President's party in 2010.
I can't imagine why.