by Thomas B. Edsall (Professor, Columbia Journalism School)
Arguably, the poor Democratic showing among whites does not represent naked race prejudice, as Obama’s election and re-election attest. But it can be seen as a reflection of substantial material interests that affect the very voters who carry greater weight in low turnout midterm Congressional elections.
Whites as a whole, who made up 75 percent of this year’s electorate, voted for Republican House candidates by a 24-point margin, 62-38, the exact same margin by which they supported Republican candidates in the 2010 midterms. In 2006, when opposition to President George W. Bush was intense, Republicans won white voters by eight points, 52-44.
The opposition of whites to the Democratic Party is visible not only in voting behavior, but in general opposition to key Democratic policy initiatives, most tellingly in hostility toward the Affordable Care Act. A November 2013 National Journal poll found, for example, that 58 percent of whites said Obamacare would make things worse for “people like you and your family,” more than double the 25 percent that said that Obamacare would make things better.
Asked whether the Affordable Care Act would make things better or worse for the country at large, 60 percent of whites said worse and 35 percent of whites said better.
Obamacare shifts health care benefits and tax burdens fromupper-income Americans to lower-income Americans, and from largely white constituencies to beneficiaries disproportionately made up of racial and ethnic minorities. The program increases levies on the overwhelmingly white affluent by raising taxes on households making more than $250,000.
To achieve its goals, Obamacare reduces by $500 million, over 10 years, spending on Medicare, according to theMedicare board of trustees, which oversees the finances of the program. Medicare serves a population that is 77 percent white. Even as reductions in Medicare spending fall disproportionately on white voters, the savings are beingused to finance Obamacare, which includes a substantial expansion of Medicaid. Medicaid recipients are overwhelmingly poor and, in 2013, were 41 percent white and 59 percent minority.
In addition to expanding Medicaid, the overall goal of Obamacare is to provide health coverage for the uninsured, apopulation that, in 2010 when the program was enacted, was 47 percent white, and 53 percent black, Hispanic, Asian-American and other minorities.
It’s not hard to see, then, why a majority of white midterm voters withheld support from Democrats and cast their votes for Republicans.'via Blog this'