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With Midterm Vote Looming, Democrats Trying to Win Back White Males

Speaker of the House John Boehner addresses the 113th Congress in the Capitol in WashingtonAs both political parties shift their focus to November’s midterm election, with control of the Senate possibly up for grabs, Democrats are grappling with the question of how hard they should work to win more votes among white men—a group that hasn’t been won by a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, when a majority voted for Lyndon Johnson.

A story in yesterday’s New York Times illustrated just how far apart the majority of white men are from the Democratic Party, which they felt deserted them and their concerns a long time ago.

“Democrats are for a bunch of freeloaders in this world as far as I’m concerned,” Gari Day, 63, an Avis bus driver from suburban Detroit, told the Times in a viewpoint that typified others in the story. “Republicans make you work for your money, and try to let you keep it.”

While Democrats generally win the votes of fewer than four in 10 white men, the party is now winning eight of 10 minority voters and a majority of women, who have been a majority of the national electorate since 1984. White men are now just a third of the electorate and are still shrinking, according to the Times.

While the Times story focused on white male Democrats, such as Frank Houston, the chairman of the Democratic Party in Oakland County, Mich., who have not given up on wooing back white males, another story in The Hill highlighted the efforts by Democrats to get more people of color and women to the polls in November.

“Women will determine the Senate, and both parties are targeting women,” Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster and strategist, told The Hill. “What Republicans are hoping to do is to minimize the Democratic vote among women, and if they can win men by more than they lose women, then they’ll win the election.”

This can be done in part by getting an especially high turnout of unmarried and young women, who “delivered the vote for the Democrats in the Virginia governor’s race,” said Lake, pointing out that unmarried women supported  Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia by 42 points.

“That’s why he’s governor — it really muted the disadvantages he had with other groups of voters,” she said.

Democrats are hoping to repeat McAuliffe’s unusual success in getting those groups to turn out in an off-year election, when much of their base tends not to turn out, compared to the GOP base of white men.

In 1994, white male voters helped Republicans take control of the House for the first time in 40 years, and again in 2010.

With President Obama’s sagging popularity, Democrats are pushing the issue of raising the minimum wage, which polls indicate is resonating with all groups, including white men.

“You can’t just give Republicans a clear field to play for the votes of white working-class men without putting up some sort of a fight because that just allows them to run the table with these voters, thereby potentially offsetting your burgeoning advantage among minorities, single women, millennials,” Ruy Teixeira, an analyst at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, told the Times.

“I just think Democrats are having a hard time figuring out how to effectively pursue it,” he added.

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