Adventures in Headline Selection: "Obama and White Voters" Edition

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 28 2011 1:46 PM

Adventures in Headline Selection: "Obama and White Voters" Edition

Tom Edsall reads the new Halpin/Texeira* report on the Democrats and their base, and adds some reporting about party strategy. "Preparations by Democratic operatives for the 2012 election make it clear for the first time that the party will explicitly abandon the white working class," he writes. "All pretense of trying to win a majority of the white working class has been effectively jettisoned in favor of cementing a center-left coalition made up, on the one hand, of voters who have gotten ahead on the basis of educational attainment... and a second, substantial constituency of lower-income voters who are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic."

The NYT assigns this headline.

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 1.34.44 PM

Fox Nation assigns this one.

Screen shot 2011-11-28 at 1.34.59 PM

The funny thing here is that "abandoning" the white working class means "continuing to lose voters who have been voting Republican since 1966." In 2008, when he rather easily won an electoral college mandate, Obama won 43 percent of the white vote -- 41 percent of white males -- and only 40 percent of whites who didn't graduate from college. Obama isn't switching policies in or out of a playbook because whites won't vote for him. Edsell doesn't suggest that he will. But with Fox Nation we get an illustration of Obama gritting his teeth and waving "see ya," while flanked by his wife and an unidentified black guy. This is quite subtle.

*Originally, I somehow managed to get both of these names wrong.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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