Breaking: President Obama’s Nefarious Campaign to Suppress White Voters
“Voter suppression” has multiple uses. It can refer to an active campaign of voter restriction laws that disproportionally and adversely affect minorities, youth and the elderly. It can also refer, apparently, to “negative” political ads meant to dissuade citizens from voting for the opposition, or convincing voters not to vote at all.
Journalism professor and author Thomas Edsall and political columnist John Ellis subscribe to the latter definition. Edsall and Ellis point out that Obama’s recent slate of negative campaign ads against Mitt Romney is a “voter suppression” strategy meant to lower white voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election–particularly white men without college degrees. Obama has little support from white men without college degrees–a constituency Democrats have lost to the Republicans for nearly 30 years. Ellis points out that in 2008 Obama captured 43 percent of the white vote, the highest percentage of white votes received by a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson. Edsall dusts off a 1985 Democratic National Committee study on “the defection of working class whites to the Republican Party,” which concludes,
the Democratic Party has not stood with them as they moved from the working to the middle class. They have a whole set of middle class economic problems today, and the Democratic Party is not helping them. Instead it is helping the blacks, Hispanics and the poor. They feel betrayed.
Two things jump out: no Democratic presidential candidate has received more than 43 percent of the white vote since Johnson and racial divisions emphatically drive American politics. But what’s even more telling is how Ellis and Edsall describe white voters “who helped then-Sen. Obama hit the 43 percent mark in 2008, but who are now disappointed by the president’s performance in office.” Ellis writes,
They are in debt. The equity in their homes has evaporated. They do not have enough money set aside to pay for any kind of retirement. Their wages are stagnant. They cannot afford to pay higher taxes. They live paycheck to paycheck. They are desperately afraid that they (or their spouse) will lose their jobs.
This sounds a lot like black, Hispanic and young voters as well. These voters are similarly disillusioned by Obama, which is why voter turnout is expected to fall below 2008’s historic precedent. Still, I’m unconvinced that Obama’s alleged strategy to “suppress” voters compares to Republican’s actual voter suppression campaign.