Desperate for jobs and cool toward President Barack Obama, working-class whites are flocking to Republicans, turning a group long wary of Democrats into an even bigger impediment to the party’s drive to keep control of Congress.
An Associated Press-GfK poll shows whites without four-year college degrees preferring GOP candidates by twice the margin of the last two elections, when Democrats made significant gains in the House and Senate. The poll, conducted last month, found this group favoring GOP hopefuls 58 percent to 36 percent – a whopping 22 percentage-point gap.
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In 2008, when Obama won the presidency, they favored GOP congressional candidates by 11 percentage points, according to exit polls of voters. When Democrats won the House and Senate in 2006, the Republican edge was 9 percentage points.
Compared with better-educated whites, working-class whites tend to be older and more conservative – groups that traditionally lean Republican and are uneasy with the young president’s activist governing. Their wariness is reinforced by a prolonged economic funk that has disproportionately hurt the working class and shown scant signs of improvement under Obama and Congress’ majority Democrats.