Thursday, March 17, 2016

Hillary Clinton struggling in Appalachia; has no connection to 'hard-working white Americans'

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has scored well in urban areas and among rural and urban African Americans but continues to perform poorly among whites in Appalachia, much like President Obama did in 2008 and 2012, Sasha Issenberg reports for Bloomberg. The problem for Clinton is that some of the areas where she is now getting low numbers are the same areas where she beat Obama in 2008. (Bloomberg photo by Daniel Acker)

Clinton is being abandoned by the voters she "infelicitously celebrated in May 2008 as 'working, hard-working Americans, white Americans,'” Issenberg writes. In 2008 "she racked up her biggest margins within the skein of Scots-Irish heritage that cuts from Pennsylvania and Ohio down to North Carolina and Tennessee, including landslide victories over Obama in the Kentucky and West Virginia primaries." Clinton told USA Today in May 2008, “These are the people you have to win if you’re a Democrat in sufficient numbers to actually win the election. Everybody knows that.”

Issenberg writes, "That turned out not to be quite true. What the New Yorker that fall diagnosed as 'the Appalachian problem' was real. Nearly all the counties where Obama did significantly worse than the 2004 nominee, John Kerry, stretched contiguously across that economically depressed region, and yet despite that loss of support from rural whites Obama managed to carry Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina in his rout of John McCain." (Bloomberg graphic: Clinton's vote share change from 2008 to 2016)
"On Tuesday, that mountainous stretch handed Clinton some of her most staggering reversals: In Ohio’s Galia County, along the West Virginia border, Clinton’s share of the vote fell by 30 percentage points; by 33 in North Carolina’s Graham County, abutting Tennessee," Issenberg writes. "This is all a reminder of how circumstantial Clinton’s position as tribune of the white working class was during her first presidential campaign. Perhaps now that she is no longer running against an African-American candidate—and has anointed herself a crusader against the 'challenges of racism, of sexism, of discrimination against the LGBT community'—Clinton no longer has much of a connection with those 'hard-working Americans.'"

"Those results may give Sanders cause to be optimistic about his prospects in Pennsylvania—where Clinton won by nearly 10 points in 2008 even as Obama trounced her in Philadelphia—and Clinton a reason to worry about facing Donald Trump in the general election," Issenberg writes. "This year, the Appalachian problem may be hers." (Read more)

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