Hillary Clinton continues to assert that she is the stronger candidate against John McCain, because Obama can’t win the white voters who don’t have a college degree. This morning, pollster Mark Mellman debunks that idea.
First, there is no relationship between how candidates perform among any particular group of voters in primaries and how they do with that segment in the general election. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost college-educated voters to Paul Tsongas in the early competitive primaries, but he went on to win that group in November by the largest margin any Democrat ever had. Similarly, John Kerry lost young voters in the competitive primaries in 2004 before going on to win them by a record margin in the general election.
Second, Democrats running for president have been losing white, non-college-educated voters since before Mr. Obama was elected to the Illinois legislature. Al Gore and Mr. Kerry each failed to win a majority of this bloc in the general election. With these voters, the size of the losing margin is what matters…Mr. Obama is faring better today with the white working class than did either Mr. Gore or Mr. Kerry.
Although Mr. Obama leads Mr. McCain in almost every national poll published this month, he cannot afford to take any constituency for granted. But he plainly has a path to victory. And the white working class does not seem poised to block his way.