Under Obama, America more divided than ever

I think it’s fair to say that Barack Obama has proved to be a polarizing political figure. You can argue about who to blame for that reality — some accuse Obama of divisive policies and rhetoric; others argue that certain segments of the electorate have responded negatively for reasons that have nothing to do with how Obama has governed, and are instead related to his race and background.

For the moment, let’s set that debate aside and look at the numbers, which are pretty stark and suggest that Obama has indeed become one of the most polarizing political figures in the modern era.

demopoll

For example, let’s look at the results of the most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, which overall gave Obama a lead of 51-44 percent among registered voters. But when you start breaking that down demographically, things get interesting.

Among non-white Americans, Obama leads Mitt Romney by 59 percentage points, 78-19 percent.

Among women voters, Obama leads by a margin of 19 points, 57-38 percent.

Romney’s only significant advantage — 61-35 percent — is among white male voters. His 26-point lead among that demographic group is what keeps him at least competitive in the poll.

pewpoll

The Post/ABC poll did not break down responses by age, but a Pew poll (see chart to right) taken a month earlier did. In addition to confirming Obama’s advantages among women and minorities, Pew found that among voters 18-29, Obama led Romney by 61-35 percent, a 26-point breakout.

Romney performed best among American voters aged 65 and older. But I was particularly struck by his performance among women aged 18-49: He loses that core group by a startling 31 points, 64-33 percent. That’s basically a 2-1 advantage for Obama.

So how do those numbers compare historically? The best gauge may be the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, a contest that had no incumbent and basically ended in a tie. According to CNN exit poll data from that election, Gore had an 11-point advantage over George Bush among women, compared to Obama’s current 19-point advantage. Among voters 18-29, Gore and Bush were essentially tied, a far cry from the 28-point lead that Obama now enjoys.

So what’s it all mean? Well, it’s pretty clear that what you see when you look at the political scene depends an awful lot on who you are. The lens through which you view things — your background, upbringing, life experience, etc. –doesn’t dictate your politics, but it does strongly influence it. The intensity of that influence seems to be increasing over time.

Looking at the data, it’s also hard to argue against the notion that for whatever reason, the Republican Party is becoming the party of middle-aged white men, dominating in that core group but losing appeal in most other areas. And although the data don’t address this, my sense is that the harder the GOP works to maintain its grip on that group, the more difficult it becomes to reach outside it that demographic and broaden the party’s appeal. I don’t have the slightest idea of how it can break out of that spiral.

If you have some other interpretation of the data, I’ll be glad to listen.

– Jay Bookman

643 comments Add your comment

Thulsa Doom

April 12th, 2012
3:35 pm

They both suck,

And the house?

Adam

April 12th, 2012
3:38 pm

Did O lower taxes?

Stimulus?

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
3:43 pm

The head line of this blog is rather interesting. “Under Obama, America more divided than ever”. It is almost as if Jay is shocked that this has actually happened. Does he not watch the news and see what is going on? I watch the news, and Obama is seen picking groups out and attacking them. He sets his surrogates loose on the rich, the conservatives, Fox News, George Bush, BIG oil, BIG business, Wall Street, GOP women, conservative women, and now Ann Romney. When the water gets a little hot, he backs away and then finds another fight. But his surrogates continue the attacks, along with the all to willing media to help. The war on women fight was started by George Stephanopolis during the GOP debate back in January when he asked Mitt Romney what he thought about contraceptives and womens rights. Mitt told George that no one is even talking about it, and doesn’t understand why George wants to make this an issue. It is an issue only for Obama as he continues to try and run away from his abysmal record. The war never even started, but the dems are making it a major issue on the campaign trail. And you wonder why America is divided?

Jay Bookman likes to chum up the waters for his minions. He continuously posts blogs here to fire up his troops and set them loose on any stray conservative that may visit his blog. If a conservative makes a point that is different from what Jay says, or differs from their illogical leftist agenda, they are attacked by Jay’s parrots and even Jay on certain occasions. Dissenting views are met with cackles and childish replies, especially when Jay swoops in with his amateurish remarks. And you wonder why America is divided?

You have your regulars (Adam, JamVet, Butch Cassidy, Stands for Decibels, They BOTH suck, JOE COOL, getalife, Becky, aquagirl, etc) that somehow are under the illusuion that they are much smarter than anyone else, and they have all the answers. You would think they would step away from their computers and enter into the world of politics since they know it all. They know that if they had to step out from behind Jay Bookman and all his followers, they would get laughed right out of the arena of ideas. Everything wrong with this world is the Republicans, and more specifically, George Bush’s fault. There are mounds and mounds of evidence that show Obama has failed as a president, but not in the liberals mind. Obama inherited all this mess, and it is going to take more than 4 years to solve them. Ronald Reagan took office after another failure, Jimmy Carter, and he did a pretty good job turning it around, why can’t Obama do the same? Stop making excuses, and do the job you were put in office to do.

Under Obama, America more divided than ever….because we have a president that is not man enough to lead, and instead plays the game of personal destruction.

robert goulet

April 12th, 2012
3:55 pm

Interesting way to look at the data…
Here is the ABC/WaPo poll that actually happened simultaneously as the PEW Research poll that Mr. Bookman references in his article (3/7-3/11): http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postabcpoll_031012.html
Item 31 shows Romney leading Obama 49-47. The Democrat/Republican/Independent spread is also much closer to actual numbers (approx 50-50/D-R historically) in the 3/7-3/11 poll. 31% Democrat, 27% Republican, 36% Independent.
Here is the ABC/WaPo poll that Mr. Bookman used in the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postabcpoll_04082012.html
As you will notice, the poll is 34% Democrat, 23% Republican, 34% Independent. The +11 advantage of Democrats to Republicans skew the data heavily in favor of the President.
Can you explain why the demographic data was not merged with the polling data until a month later? Could it be because someone waited until the 2 polls largely matched each other and showed the President with a large lead? What does that say about the PEW Poll? Could it have been as heavily skewed as the most recent ABC/WaPo poll?
I think what we can gather from your article is that polls are unreliable at best and downright lies at worst.

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
3:56 pm

“You have your regulars (Adam, JamVet, Butch Cassidy, Stands for Decibels, They BOTH suck, JOE COOL, getalife, Becky, aquagirl, etc) that somehow are under the illusuion that they are much smarter than anyone else, and they have all the answers”

Shh, Casual Observer!

I enjoy this grandiose delusional addiction on their part.

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
3:58 pm

Libs & their love affair with polls – a never ending saga akin to a dog chasing its tail

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
4:06 pm

“You are a southern, cheesy grits eating NOBODY.

They would look down their noses at you Milton Man

I bet your wife don’t drive TWO CADILLACS”

I am a “NOBODY” as you so eloquently shout yet you take time to respond to my post???

(1) Look in the mirror very, very closely & (2) Repeat “I am an Idiot” three times

Don Abernethy

April 12th, 2012
4:12 pm

If the Tea Party will get active and put some life into a tired Republican Party we will have a good chance of winning. But if we have to depend on the Republican leadership in the Senate to help we are in big trouble.

Adam

April 12th, 2012
4:13 pm

Pfft. Everyone knows you need millions of dollars to run for political office. As it is I do what I can in grassroots efforts instead. Including, but not limited to, other community efforts.

baleen

April 12th, 2012
4:16 pm

MiltonMan
April 12th, 2012
10:37 am
“It appears the War on Women is for real suckers.”
Said by one who has no problem with the DNC advisor blasting non-working women.

The FORMER democratic advisor simply called out Romney for claiming his wife had some expertise in the field of macroeconomics. BIG DIFFERENCE.

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
4:19 pm

The person who attacked Ann Romney for staying home and raising 5 kids is a lesbian. She has never raised kids, and never will. She is excused from her ignorant statement.

They BOTH suck

April 12th, 2012
4:20 pm

TD…….

If you are still on……. I already said Dems had the House for 8 yrs

You said Reagan worked with a Dem Congress……. He worked with a Dem House for 8 and Repub Senate for 6…… so your original post was incorrect………. he only did what you indicated for 2 yrs

They BOTH suck

April 12th, 2012
4:21 pm

cry on Casual………… cry on

I will debate you any day of the week and you can use your talking points and open up as many right leaning website for info as you like

Have a great day

Wise A$$

April 12th, 2012
4:22 pm

MiltonMan
April 12th, 2012
3:58 pm

Libs & their love affair with polls

I understand that Barney Frank LOVES polls.

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
4:30 pm

They BOTH suck,

From reading your posts, I am not surprised that you would try and be ‘The Man’. I will offer some advice to you young man, for free. Be very careful with your threats, crow is not something you would want to feast on.

They BOTH suck

April 12th, 2012
4:38 pm

CO

“Be very careful with your threats, crow is not something you would want to feast on.”

Didn’t threaten anyone……. If you felt “threatend” by a post on a blog then I can’t help you

It was you calling people out on your post with your hyperbole, talking pts and rhetoric……. I merely responded with a challenge

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
4:48 pm

“The FORMER democratic advisor…”

She still is & has visited the WH 35 times now.

Perhaps

April 12th, 2012
4:51 pm

It appears that white men are more willing to support a candidate without respect to race than their non-white counterparts.

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
4:56 pm

TBS,

After reading through 13 pages of postings, you and others listed above can’t differentiate between opinion and fact, and I can’t help you. Debates with the delusional is about as entertaining as watching paint dry. You are entitled to your opinion, and that is all it is, your opinion based on what you think is reality.

Have a nice day.

Tom Middleton

April 12th, 2012
5:01 pm

No genius here, Jay, but with the Republicans going further to the right every election cycle, they seem to be losing everyone but “the mighty hunter” white guy who thinks their party offers him the best advantage for winning the game.

The Dems, on the other hand, want everyone to win and are always willing to help, probably why they do the best with everyone who’s left.

So is moderation (centrism) the key to the polls you cited, something the Republicans have spent many years running away from as fast as they could?

Yup, they did it to themselves, sir. It seems greed doesn’t work very well after all, unless, of course, you’re a mighty vulture capitalist running to win the presidency!

They BOTH suck

April 12th, 2012
5:01 pm

cry on casual, cry on

Reread your original post, replace the names with your name as you look in the mirror

With that said, have a great night

Martin Williams

April 12th, 2012
5:05 pm

The war on woman is not for real suckers but for idiots like Mitt Romney. I have paid close attention to general election talks/debates for nearly 40 years and I have never heard any candidate from both sides including independent say stupid things like Mitt Romney. When Mitt open his mouth and said he will get rid of/or stop funding to Planned Parenthood was gravely stupid. That is war against women and the GOP is going to pay for that. Another idiot is Paul Ryan the budget director for the GOP. I pray Mitt makes him his running mate and a win is gurantee for Obama just like McCain did when he selected Sarah as running mate.

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
5:12 pm

TBS,

Your latest reply to my original post was almost as bad as ‘nanny nanny, boo boo’. Your ignorance entertains me. And you want to debate….get real.

Enjoy dancing with your friends, I am out of here.

Thulsa Doom

April 12th, 2012
5:27 pm

“I have paid close attention to general election talks/debates for nearly 40 years and I have never heard any candidate from both sides including independent say stupid things like Mitt Romney.”

And yet you provide no quote or evidence of all these stupid things that Romney has allegedly said. Your ignorance knows no bounds Mr. Williams.

GT

April 12th, 2012
5:29 pm

White men in our this generation are like mutations. I can only theorized they couldn’t separate the movies from reality, they wanted to think of themselves as Rambos and never grew out of that stage. You haven’t mentioned the grip younger white men are losing. 60 plus percent of the college educated are women, same with hiring, pretty soon the women will well dominate this country in anything that is important. I blame this on the same thing that we have thrown at blacks for decades, poor role models. Woman on the other hand had much better role model, few women have the ego problem of a Rambo, or a white gun toting American male. I suspect there will be a swing in this herd macho thinking ,if it is thinking, but it is probably too late. There are a lot more Bobby Petrinos riding his motorcycle and Rick Pitinos, closing down a restaurant, out there than Tim Tebows. One of the reasons the talk shows go ballistic over Tebow’s popularity, they think this kind of character is fake, and who knows maybe it is. My mother’s character was not fake, millions of women lived and died in this country unknown, broke, tired, but greater people as role models than this batch of white American men who confused character with a gun, and hate, self gratification. Now as it comes back to roast the daughters of these great American women are taking the stage to save a country loss in fiction and superficiality. The woman who stayed to raise the children while the husband went on to his trophy. The first thing the women do is vote for a strong family man who has two daughters, a wife and a mother in law living with him and has been in love with his family much longer than just when he started wanting a public office. I hope the first American women is half the family woman the first American black president is, because that is more important than sex, race or creed. Something this batch of white men loss sight of.

I remember

April 12th, 2012
5:31 pm

To his credit, Obama has a clear vision of America. It comes through in his speeches and in his agenda. It’s part of his appeal.
Unfortunately, his vision is one of a statist monolith, in which the elites tell the rest of us what to do and provide us with a mediocre set of “benefits” from the all powerful state. Everyone looks to the state to address their wrongs and to fix their problems. Internationally, he sees a weak America,justifiably ashamed for it’s history and facilitating the rise of tyrants as a means of propitiating our sins.
Now we hear that the Dems don’t believe that stay at home moms work.
The gratutious slap at Mrs. Romney stands in sharp hypocritical contrast to Obama’s demand that his wife be off limits in politics. This is the defining difference in American politics because the press will allow him to get away with his hyper-hypocrisy and will say nothing.

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
5:36 pm

“No genius here, Jay, but with the Republicans going further to the right every election cycle, they seem to be losing everyone but “the mighty hunter” white guy who thinks their party offers him the best advantage for winning the game.”

Are you stuck in 2002/2003???

Let me clue you Rip Van Winkle:

There has not been a democratic gov in this state since then – after 130+ years of democratic control

The dems have lost the state house

The dems have lost the state senate

The state of Georgia has added a new district that will vote republican

The Democratic Party in this state is broke

You could probably find a bunch of the libs gathered around Hank Johnson’s office holding “Save Guam” posters.

MiltonMan

April 12th, 2012
5:40 pm

GT:

“I hope the first American women is half the family woman the first American black president is, because that is more important than sex, race or creed. Something this batch of white men loss sight of.”

The same woman that went on record saying that she was never proud of her country???

GT

April 12th, 2012
5:44 pm

Ms. Obama had to work, wasn’t a choice. Ms. Romney didn’t have to work, doesn’t make her bad, but if she looks down her nose at working American women then we have a problem. I like going back to that Detroit speech and Romney pointing out what his wife drove. Nothing wrong with any of this until someone wants to talk about hypocritical contrast. Ms. Obama was very visible in the last election, they didn’t need a poll that said they sucked with women voters to get her involved, and the country loved the woman. Now that the Republicans have seen this kind of thing working for the Democrats they pull their wives from the bridge games and country clubs and dare us to call them on it, or as you call it, take a gratuitous slap. Great thing about women they don’t suffer fools near as well as we men.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

April 12th, 2012
5:47 pm

That’s odd, my poll has Romney up 85 – 15 across the board. Wonder which data is correct?

Tom Middleton

April 12th, 2012
6:21 pm

GT@5:29 and 5:44: You rock!!!!

Adam

April 12th, 2012
6:24 pm

Thulsa: You mean quotes like “I like being able to fire people that provide services to me” and “I’m running for office for pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals” and “the trees are the right height”

Like that?

Billybob

April 12th, 2012
6:54 pm

it is so funny to watch obama project himself onto ronald reagan and then expect people to buy his schtick……..jay, even the leftist media will not be able to create the public opinion through manipulated polls that will be needed for obama to distance himself from his own policies, actions, and own words………i know you will keep trying though……….probably will not end well for the dem party as hussein and the radicals are in the process of destroying it………..can’t wait for you to try to spin the moderate dems jumping ship as the election nears……should be in for some great leftist fiction………….you know, like the war on women that axelrod tried to create……….keep talking though libs, i need comic relief every now and then………..

Dickelsby

April 12th, 2012
6:56 pm

The current administration ‘diverting’ $500 Mill to the freaking I.R.S. for Obamare admin should be enough by itself to pull you all off this non leader….a dog with a note in his mouth would produce better policy!!!!!!

The Robes and Hoods Have Come Out Of The Closet

April 12th, 2012
6:57 pm

@Thulsa Doom

April 12th, 2012
5:27 pm
“I have paid close attention to general election talks/debates for nearly 40 years and I have never heard any candidate from both sides including independent say stupid things like Mitt Romney.”

And yet you provide no quote or evidence of all these stupid things that Romney has allegedly said. Your ignorance knows no bounds Mr. Williams
******************************************************************

Stupid things that Romney has said. :)

1. ‘I’m not concerned about the very poor’

2. The $10,000 bet

3. ‘I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake’
“I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake – I can’t have illegals.”

4. ‘Corporations are people, my friend!’

5. ‘I’m also unemployed’

6. Endorsing a violent dictatorship?
In a GOP debate on foreign policy Nov. 22, Romney was asked what the US should do about Pakistan. In his reply, he appeared to endorse the repressive reign of Indonesia’s Suharto, which began in the 1960s.

7. ‘Hanging’ Obama with a misery index
Back in April, Romney sought to tie the nation’s economic troubles to Obama, but chose words that he immediately knew were problematic – given Obama’s race.

“ “We’re going to hang him, uh, so to speak, metaphorically, with, uh, with, uh – you have to be careful these days, I’ve learned that – with an Obama Misery Index.”

8. Obama’s ‘peacetime spending binge’
Romney attacked Obama for engaging in “one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history.”

Oops.

Can you say Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya? Team Romney quickly corrected the mistake. “He meant to say since World War II,” spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told David Weigel of Slate.

9. ‘Small varmints, if you will’
: “I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I’ve always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will. I began when I was 15 or so and I have hunted those kinds of varmints since then. More than two times

10. “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.”

11. “I should tell my story. I’m also unemployed.” —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida. Romney’s net worth is over $200 million.

12. “There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip” –Mitt Romney, attempting to identify with the problems of average folk (January 2012)

13. “[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs.” –Mitt Romney, campaigning for president in Michigan (February 2012)

14. “I get speaker’s fees from time to time, but not very much.” —Mitt Romney, who earned $374,000 in speaking fees in one year according to according to his personal financial disclosure (January 2012)

15. 9. “PETA is not happy that my dog likes fresh air.” —Mitt Romney in 2007, responding to criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals following revelations that he had once put the family dog in a carrier and strapped it to the roof of his car during a 12-hour road trip

16. “I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that’s the America millions of Americans believe in. That’s the America I love.” –Mitt Romney (January 2012)

17. “I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners.” —Mitt Romney, after being asked whether he follows NASCAR racing (February 2012)

18. “I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks.” —Mitt Romney to a group of NASCAR fans wearing plastic ponchos at the Daytona 500 (February 2012)

19. “I love this state. The trees are the right height.” —Mitt Romney, campaigning in Michigan (February 2012)

Billybob

April 12th, 2012
7:01 pm

will be fun when obama’s own quotes bury his chance for re-election……….

HelpOnTheWay2012

April 12th, 2012
7:24 pm

Hmmmm….my comment is awaiting moderation. Go figure. Let’s try again, shall we.

Jay never misses a chance to bash conservatives, so I thought I would suggest a few stories for him. Maybe tomorrow he will opine on one of the following;

Poll – Romney tops Obama
Obama Hammered for ‘Jetting Around,’ Taking Vacations While Americans Suffer
“Moderate Caucus” chair urges Cheney’s execution
Latin America Loses Faith in Obama

It will not let me post the links, but these stories are easy to find using Google.

Truth-O-Meter

April 12th, 2012
7:57 pm

My thoughts about the President being a polarizing figure are the same as what I thought when that label was applied to Hillary Clinton. It’s not fair to blame the person who is the object of disdain. The only person conservatives hate more than Bill and Hillary is Obama.

When Mitch McConnell said his number one job was to see the President defeated, he meant that could be done in more ways than one. Some people may not vote for the president because they are just simply tired of the drama. I will not reward a party with my vote when I know that they work overtime stoking fear and ill will then stand back and say, “This President is dividing us!”

They BOTH suck

April 12th, 2012
8:20 pm

Casual Observer

April 12th, 2012
4:19 pm
“The person who attacked Ann Romney for staying home and raising 5 kids is a lesbian. She has never raised kids, and never will. She is excused from her ignorant statement”

Hilary Rosen is an amazing, loving and dedicated mother to our twins.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-birch/hilary-rosen-ann-romney_b_1421774.html

Please remind Casual how ignorant and uniformed he is if I do not see him first……….

Thanks

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Joel Edge

April 13th, 2012
4:58 am

Why are you Democrats so obsessed with race?

Difference

April 15th, 2012
2:44 pm

Hey, don’t look over there (the economy). Look over here! (war on women, tax returns, anything)

Madison

April 15th, 2012
6:02 pm

Obama inherited a $1.2 trillion deficit, if you look at the cause of the deficit
1) bush tax cuts price tag $4.5 trillion so far
2) Iraq and afghan wars cost $1.5 trillion
3) Entitlements are around $1 trillion per year now
4) The recession reduced the government intake to 14.8 percent of GDP versus nearly 17% for Bush.

Obama’s only significant spending while in office was the 2nd stimulus ~$344 billion of which $244 billion went to the payroll tax cut that was relief for the middle class and small business.
The remainder was for cash for clunkers and the auto bailout that saved one of our strongest manufacturing sectors. GM went from bankrupt in 08, to the number 1 car manufacturer in the world, a position lost to Toyota nearly a decade ago.