Yet Another Beltway Myth

Frank Rich takes a trebuchet to the “Democrats are divided” myth, exposing reams of data debunking the Beltway falsehood:

Yet the myth of Democratic disarray is so pervasive that when “NBC Nightly News” and The Wall Street Journal presented their new poll results last week (Obama, 47 percent; McCain, 41 percent) they ignored their own survey’s findings to stick to the clichéd script. Both news organizations (and NBC’s sibling, MSNBC) dwelled darkly on Mr. Obama’s “problems with two key groups” (as NBC put it): white men, where he is behind 20 percentage points to Mr. McCain, and white suburban women, where he is behind 6 points.

Since that poll gives Mr. Obama not just a 19-point lead among all women but also a 7-point lead among white women, a 6-point deficit in one sliver of the female pie is hardly a heart-stopper. Nor is Mr. Obama’s showing among white men shocking news. No Democratic presidential candidate, including Bill Clinton, has won a majority of that declining demographic since 1964. Mr. Kerry lost white men by 25 points, and Mr. Gore did by 24 points (even as he won the popular vote).

“NBC Nightly News” was so focused on these supposedly devastating Obama shortfalls that there was no mention that the Democrat beat Mr. McCain (and outperformed Mr. Kerry) in every other group that had been in doubt: independents, Catholics, blue-collar workers and Hispanics. Indeed, the evidence that pro-Clinton Hispanics are flocking to Mr. McCain is as nonexistent as the evidence of a female stampede. Mr. Obama swamps Mr. McCain by 62 percent to 28 percent — a disastrous G.O.P. setback, given that President Bush took 44 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004, according to exit polls. No wonder the McCain campaign no longer lists its candidate’s home state of Arizona as safe this fall.

There are many ways that Mr. Obama can lose this election. But his 6-percentage-point lead in the Journal-NBC poll is higher than Mr. Bush’s biggest lead (4 points) over Mr. Kerry at any point in that same poll in 2004. So far, despite all the chatter to the contrary, Mr. Obama is not only holding on to Mrs. Clinton’s Democratic constituencies but expanding others (like African-Americans). The same cannot be said of Mr. McCain and the G.O.P. base.

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