Hillary Needs Working White Men to Win in 2016

Image: Hillary Needs Working White Men to Win in 2016

Monday, 10 Mar 2014 09:56 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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By positioning herself as the anti-Obama, Hillary Clinton won over white men in the 2008 Democratic primary. If she wants to win the White House in 2016, those same voters will need to be heavily courted, according to The National Journal's James Oliphant.

Oliphant writes that Clinton, in her own words, stayed in the 2008 race because "Obama's support among working, hardworking Americans, white Americans, is weakening."

She was spot on, according to Oliphant, who says that in order for Clinton to be victorious, she will again need the support of white men. As evidence, he references a February New York Times/CBS News poll that showed steadily declining support among independent white men. Obama lost white voters "by a margin unmatched in history by a winning candidate," Oliphant wrote

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Clinton beat now-President Barack Obama in 2008 in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, states peppered with small towns and lots of middle- and working-class whites.

While Democrats appear to be confident that its key demographics  – Hispanics, African Americans, college-educated women, and young people – will remain loyal to the party, centrist think tank Third Way cautions against overconfidence.

In order to keep whites, particularly white men, on their side, Democrats must craft a message that touches those voters, Oliphant writes, something Clinton did successfully in 2008 when she said she would work "for the nurse on her second shift, for the worker on the line, for the waitress on her feet, for the small-business owner, the farmer, the teacher, the coal miner, the trucker, the soldier, the veteran."

If Democrats aren't careful, they are ripe to see Hispanic and young voters defect to the GOP in 2016.

"If the 2004 election had played out in 2012, George W. Bush still would have beaten John Kerry. (The reason: Bush scored 44 percent of the Latino vote.)," The National Journal reports, citing a study by Third Way.

The author of "The White Working Class Today," Andrew Levison, says Clinton will need to take a page from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's book and cast aside tired liberal positions, specifically "union-oriented rhetoric," in favor of criticizing big business.

The question remains whether Clinton, a former U.S. senator and secretary of state, will connect with working class whites. An unidentified former Clinton staffer told Oliphant that having come from Arkansas, Clinton is well-versed in how to connect with the average Joe. However, her authenticity could pose a problem.

"Indeed, Clinton won over the white-male vote by positioning herself as the anti-Obama," Oliphant writes. "Without a similar rival next time, will she still bother with train depots in Grafton, W.Va., and high schools in Steubenville, Ohio? That's one of the problems with being a presumptive nominee: The map, and the people who live deep within it, become less and less important."

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama's Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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