Poll: Non-Whites Feel Better Off Than They Felt Four Years Ago

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 13 2012 5:47 PM

Poll: Non-Whites Feel Better Off Than They Felt Four Years Ago

The new CNN poll on the campaign and the economy asks voters the Reagan question: Are you better off than you were four years ago? And it provides the latest cache of evidence that non-white voters may save Barack Obama, as they have rescued every successful Democratic candidate since 1976. First, the racial breakdown:

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No set of data could confirm that non-white voters are actually, economically, better off than they were at this point in 2008 -- in the private sector. (Let's play along with the question, instead of starting the Obama record in February 2009.) Black unemployment is usually twice that of whites; Hispanic unemployment is usually 50 percent higher.

Maybe the second set of data will tell us something.

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Voters in urban areas, the South, and the Midwest are the only ones who feel better off. They're less wrong; unemployment has fallen faster in those areas than it's fallen on the West coast and the Northeast. Are the voters in urban areas better off? Maybe -- but it's more important that these voters are less white than the rest of the country. And all of the voters I've described are likelier to receieve special assistance from the government. The economy isn't doing better, not for them. But they're getting by, and they like Obama to start with, so they're optimistic.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.