In 2008, Obama only got 43% of the white vote, but won the election.
In 2012, Obama only got about 39% of the white vote, but won the election.
Conclusion: despite his presidential victories, Obama and the Democrats prove that they just can't score with white voters, that they are out of touch with the concerns of white voters.
Fact: That's a load of crap. I know the word skew has gotten a bad rap this election. But the fact of the matter is that Democrats and Obama are plenty competitive with voters around the country with the exception of one region: The south, Texas and Oklahoma. Whites in that region are so hostile towards the Democratic Party and President Obama that they skew the total white vote nationally.
Follow me below the orange squiggle for the details.
Can we go back to the 2008 elections, please?
The reason I want to go back there is because there is a full slate of states that were exit polled in 2008. So, let's start off with a brief hypothetical question: How many electoral college votes would Obama have won in 2008 if there was no minority participation in the election that year?
Here's the list of states in which Obama won the white vote outright:
California 55 EVs
Colorado 9 EVs
Connecticut 7 EVs
Delaware: 3 EVs
DC 3 EVs
Hawaii 4 EVs
Illinois 21 Evs
Iowa 7 EVs
Maine 4 EVs
MA 12 EVs
Michigan 17 EVs
Minnesota 10 EVs
New Hampshire 4 EVs
New York 31 EVs
Oregon 7 EVs
Rhode Island 4 EVs
Vermont 3 EVs
Washington 11 EVs
Wisconsin 10 EVs
Total EVs: 222
That would not, of course, have been enough to win the White House, but in the remainder of the states, with the exception of the south, Texas and Oklahoma, Obama was so competitive with the white vote that he only needed modest minority turn out to win those states. The following states Obama was highly competitive with the white vote, and only needed modest minority participation to win that state's electoral votes
State O White Vote PCT EVs
New Jersey 49% 15
Ohio 46% 20
Pennsylvania 48% 21
So, with only modest minority participation Obama would've won 278 electoral votes and been president because he is, in most of the country quite competitive with white voters.
Other states in which he exceeded his national average of 43% of the white vote (2008):
So, Obama earned at least 45% of the white vote in 25 of 50 states, including some of the most populous states. I haven't done the calculations, but looking at his white vote totals in 2008 in most states, it's hard to believe that he lost the white vote so decisively, unless you look at his white vote percentages in these states:
S. Carolina 26%
Of those ten states, the high is 36%. The median is 26%.
In looking at it this way, it becomes clear that "white voters" are hardly monolithic. A white voter in Wisconsin (54%) doesn't vote anything like a white voter in Alabama (10%), for example.
I don't have time to complete a full statistical analysis of the white vote in 2008, but I suspect that, if the south, Texas, and Oklahoma were excluded, Obama would've proven highly competitive with the white vote, if not, outright won it.
Due to the lack of exit polls in some of these states this year, I can't do the same kind of analysis. But there is little reason to believe that southern whites were anymore generous with Obama this time around, and thus, it becomes clear, that once again, southern whites skew our picture of what a white voter in much this country is like.
It also helps give the false impression that Democrats and Obama has some struggle in getting their message to resonate with white voters in general. Instead, it seems clear that that statement is true only for a portion of white voters who inhabit the south.
I know the GOP has helped to turn the word skew into a dirty word in these parts, but it is obvious that southern whites, are so out of touch, not only with the rest of the electorate generally, but are also out of touch with most of the rest of white voters in the country specifically, such that they skew the picture of white voters.
From my comment below:
I've actually mulled over this analysis for four years.
As a white southerner, it irks me when people talk about Democrats having trouble scoring with white voters generally, because the truth of the matter is that the Democrats real struggles with whites is largely in the south.
This is, in my view, the result of decades of conservative pandering with the "southern strategy." While it hurts the perception of Democrats and white voters, it has now materialized that it has marginalized southern white voters such that they are now electorally irrelevant.
Democrats can now win elections with virtually no support from southern white voters. So, we are going to get to the point where we must ask what do these people matter in elections? I think it is one of the things that allowed Obama to embrace gay marriage. So, what? Are you gonna lose southern white voters? No one is afraid of losing this demo anymore.