The new Washington Post/ABC News poll starkly illustrates the challenge Democrats face in this regard. It turns out that an overwhelming majority of non-college whites believes the U.S. economic system is stacked in favor of the rich — but far more of those voters also think Republicans, not Democrats, have better ideas to address that problem.
The Post/ABC poll finds that 68 percent of Americans think the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy rather than being fair to most Americans (only 27 percent believe the latter). Some 69 percent of white non-college voters believe it favors the wealthy, somewhat higher than the 61 percent of white college-educated voters who believe the same.
But look how non-college whites break down on the question of which party has the better ideas to make the economic system fairer:
Non-college whites overwhelmingly believe the economic system is not fair to most Americans, but substantially more of them prefer GOP ideas on what to do about it. By contrast, other groups are much more evenly divided on this question. Among college-educated whites, Republicans lead by a much smaller 46-38. Independents are almost exactly split. And in a bit of good news for Dems, moderates favor their ideas by 45-34. But among non-college whites, GOP ideas enjoy a 21 point advantage.
If only 29% of non-college white voters think the Democrats are better for them economically after seven years of a Democratic president actually putting in policies that help them. then the Democrats need to kiss working class white voters goodbye.
Chasing these folks, especially at the expense of black and Latino voters (I'm talking to you, Jim Webb) is a guaranteed disaster.
The reality is that Republicans have succeeded in framing Obamacare, executive action on immigration, and international trade deals as benefiting those people at the direct expense of "good ol' boys". White resentment is the driving force behind the Republican party right now (see Donald Trump). Putting Hillary or Bernie in isn't going to change that. The GOP austerity regime is being sold as "We'll take away health care and jobs and entitlements away from them and never you. Trust us." It's working, unfortunately.
As a result, Democrats need to remember who voted them into the White House, and who ran from them in 2010 and 2014 in midterms.
Luckily, President Obama seems to be well aware of that distinction.