Listen to President Obama and Mitt Romney on the campaign trail, and you could be forgiven for briefly thinking only one gender is allowed to vote. Both candidates regularly tailor their message to female voters: You can see it in the president’s attacks on Romney’s desire to cut Planned Parenthood funding and potentially appoint judges to overturn Roe v. Wade, and in Romney’s claim that “this president has failed America’s women” due to an uptick in female poverty.
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There’s a reason for this: Women are widely perceived as more likely than men to be swing voters. In the battleground state of Colorado, for example, both campaigns are open about the fact that they believe whoever makes the best case to suburban women will win the state.
Yet all the talk about women might make it easy to forget that men are a significant chunk of the electorate as well. While women outvoted men by about 10 million votes in the 2008 presidential election, men still made up 48 percent of the electorate. And white men alone made up more than one third of the electorate – 36 percent – according to national exit polls.
It’s true that whites are slowly shrinking as a portion of the electorate as blacks, Hispanics and Asians grow in influence, which is why you don’t see many news stories about them as a voting bloc. But they still pack a powerful electoral punch. White men, in fact, are providing the biggest drag on the president of any voting bloc as he tries to win another four years in the Oval Office. Even if the president gets his expected 80 percent support from minority voters, he is unlikely to win the election if he can’t win more than one in three white men. And he might not.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released this week found that white men support Romney over Mr. Obama 65 percent to 32 percent – a 2-to-1 margin. That suggests the president is doing worse among white men then he did in 2008, when exit polls showed he lost white men by a 57 percent to 41 percent margin. The poll also found white men moving away from the president: Romney’s 19-point mid-October lead on handling the economy among the group has risen to 35 points today.