POLITICS

Does Oregon Put Obama's White Working Class Problem To Rest?

Since much ink has been spent on Sen. Barack Obama's troubles with the white work class vote - "[it has been] painted as a fatal flaw in his campaign," as Keith Olberman noted - it is important to note that the Senator had big time success among that very constituency in Oregon's primary on Tuesday.

White voters - the only ones in the exit polls because the state is so homogeneous - went to the Senator in overwhelming numbers. In fact, every age group, except those older than 60, preferred Obama to Sen. Hillary Clinton. Obama, in addition, won the majority of voters whose total family incomes where less than $50,000 as well as all income groups, save for the smallest: $15,000 to $29,999. Union households, moreover, went to Obama by a margin of 60 percent to 37 percent.

Clinton, as has traditionally proven the case, bested Obama among those Oregon voters whose highest level of education was a high school degree, by a margin of 53 to 44 percent. But among Catholics, which have proven to be, perhaps, Clinton's largest and most sturdy contingent of supporters, Obama actually did better: 49 to 48 percent.

So what to make of it all? For starters, the conventional wisdom that Obama has a working class white problem should probably be replaced with the argument, which Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall has pointed to, that he has an Appalachia problem. Finally, it has to be at the very least noted that race is a factor, at least in some regions of the country. Ten percent of Oregon Democratic primary voters said that race was an important issue. Of that group, however, 51 percent still supported Obama.

In Kentucky, by contrast, 21 percent of primary-goers cited race as an important issue in their voting decision. Of that group, 81 percent supported Clinton.