It’s not just that Barack Obama keeps winning primaries and caucuses. And it’s not just the sizable margins of his victories. What’s really disconcerting for the Clinton campaign right now is how — and with whom — Obama is getting ahead.
Obama won the Wisconsin primary by stealing support from blue-collar workers, previously a key Clinton bloc.
If Clinton was to survive the string of February losses, it was going to be by holding on to what her chief strategist, Mark Penn, has called her “durable coalition.” White women, Latinos, and older voters would be unmoved by Obama’s flash. No group was more crucial to the Penn argument than blue-collar voters. Clinton aides argued that not only were bedrock Democratic voters for Clinton, but they had an aversion to Obama. “How can the Democratic nominee win without working people?” asked a top Clinton adviser recently.
In Wisconsin, according to exit polls, Obama placed ahead of Clinton among those who make less than $50,000 a year and among those with less than a college education. He has now won working-class white men in Wisconsin, Missouri, New Hampshire, California, Maryland, and Virginia. Obama also ate into Clinton’s usual margin with white women voters.
Any reasonable comeback scenario for Clinton includes a very strong showing among blue-collar voters. In fact, the same way Texas and Ohio are firewall states for Clinton, this is a firewall constituency for her. And yet, it looks like a firewall that is slowly starting to crumble.
Other items of interest from the exit polls:
He split white women, marking about a 10-point improvement since early February. He also won half of married women, and even won single women. Obama took six in ten white men, a demographic that has shifted between the two candidates throughout the race. His white male support also marked about a 10-point improvement since Super Tuesday.
Regionally, the news was no better for Clinton. Obama won a majority of suburban voters, something Clinton did on Super Tuesday. He split rural voters, whom Clinton had won by about 20 points two weeks ago. Clinton also had won a slight majority of urban voters then. Obama won Wisconsin city dwellers by about a two to one ratio. […]
Obama won independents by a two to one ratio, which amounted to one in four voters. Obama won every philosophical persuasion of Democrat. Those who identified as “very liberal” to “somewhat conservative” voted for the Illinois senator. Half the electorate were liberal and Obama won them by double digits. The largest share of voters, though, identified as moderates. And Obama won a clear majority of their support.
The lone bright spot for the New York senator? She won seniors, again, who have become her most reliable backers.