On my Saturday door-to-door canvassing of neighborhoods, I hand a brochure to the voters or affix it to the door which touts President Obama’s ‘saving the auto industry.’ Not only that, but it also states that over 800,000 Ohio jobs have been saved through that action because one in eight jobs in Ohio are related to the production of automobiles.
The other evening at a meeting of Obama volunteers I overheard a disturbing statement made by one of them. ‘Although he saved their jobs, many auto workers won’t vote for him [Obama] because he’s black.’ I have no doubt about this fact and I’ve suspected as much for many years. Those are the so-called Reagan Democrats. These are blue collar workers, generally with only a high school diploma, who often view the Democratic Party as “working primarily for the benefit of others: the very poor, feminists, the unemployed, African Americans, Latinos, and other groups,” according to Stan Greenberg, Democratic pollster. That’s exactly the ‘message’ that right-wing media hopes that these Reagan Democrats believe about today’s Democratic Party and Mr. Obama himself.
In his book, Middle Class Dreams: The Politics and Power of the New American Majority, Greenberg examined this set of voters, especially in a northern suburb of Detroit: Macomb County. Although they were swayed away from their party in both 1980, 1984 and 1988 they abandoned George H. W. Bush in 1992 and voted for Bill Clinton. Greenberg noted their disaffection with Bush’s ‘trickle down economics’ plan- the same plan that Mitt Romney is hawking this election year.
Yet, that was 1992, 20 years ago. Has this group of voters changed their mind? In 2008, they voted for Obama/Biden 53% to 45 for McCain/Palin, but four years earlier, they narrowly voted for George W. Bush after narrowly voting for Gore in 2000. What makes this group of voters tick? And what are they thinking here in 2012?
On Labor Day, President Obama will be speaking in Toledo at the behest of local labor unions which gave away 3000 tickets to its members and families. Who are those people who will stand in line for 2 hours waiting to get in? Latinos? African Americans? Blue collar whites? It will be interesting to see. I’ll let you know.