The looming racial chasm

Ronald Brownstein’s recent column points once again to the emerging racial chasm in the US. Obama won 80% of the non-White vote in 2008, and his approval rating among minorities continues to be around 75%. Among Whites, it’s a different story. 44% of college-educated Whites approve of Obama, and only 38% of non-college-educated Whites. If, as Brownstein suggests, these approval ratings reflect future voting patterns, it would mean a landslide against the Democrats by Whites — quite possibly more than the official 58% White turnout for Bush in 2004.

But he also points to the possibility that support for Obama will slip even further among college-educated Whites:

Since 2007, median incomes have plunged more for white families headed by men with a college degree than those headed by men with only high school educations, the Economic Policy Institute reports.

That widening distress changes the political equation. A possible Republican surge next year in blue-collar “beer track” districts remains the biggest threat to the Democrats’ House majority. The Democrats’ vulnerability will deepen, however, if they cannot hold the line in “wine track” districts whose education levels exceed the national average. That’s one way a difficult 2010 election for Democrats could turn catastrophic.

If less than 40% of Whites voted Democrat while twice that percentage are voting Republican, it would indeed indicate a widening racial chasm. Of course, the downside is that there is no evidence that this is anything more than implicit Whiteness. And the Republicans are certainly not going to nominate candidates that would do anything to change this.

Still, it’s only a matter of time — and a fairly short time at that — before everyone realizes that the political landscape is fast becoming a racial landscape. And at that point, explicit assertions of White identity are inevitable.

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