What could dissolve the powerful electoral coalition that powered both of President Obama's victories? The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor poll points to the greatest risk: continuing economic dissatisfaction.
The survey shows some clear continuing signs of strength for Obama with the key elements of the "coalition of the ascendant" that reelected him. African-Americans, Hispanics, members of the millennial generation ages 18-29, and college-educated white women — the growing groups that provided Obama his critical support last November — all said in the poll they trusted Obama more than congressional Republicans to develop solutions to the country's economic problems. All four groups are also more likely than the public overall to reject the Reaganesque argument that government is more the problem than the solution to the country's challenges. Moreover, the first three groups are also more likely than the public overall to say Obama's agenda will increase opportunity for people like them.
But the survey also highlights two potential fissures in the coalition. One is that college-educated white women — who generally lean toward liberal social positions that align them with Obama and most Democrats — tend to hold a dim view of his economic performance. Just 28 percent of them say Obama's agenda will increase opportunity for people like them; 42 percent say it will decrease it. Obama also scores no better than a roughly even split among the college white women on the question of whether his agenda "helped to avoid an even worse economic crisis" or ran "up a record federal deficit while failing to significantly improve the economy."
The bigger risk for Obama: The millennial generation and minorities are much more likely than the public overall to describe their current economic situation as only fair or poor. While 54 percent of the public overall (and just 39 percent of the college white women) put that negative designation on their current economic standing, 63 percent of millennials, 67 percent of African-Americans, and 69 percent of Hispanics say they are struggling. On issues like guns, gay marriage, and potentially immigration, congressional Republicans continue to take positions that make it difficult for all of these voters, as well as the college white women, to connect with the GOP. But if minorities and millennials remain this dissatisfied with their economic condition, Democrats will face a growing challenge to maintain through 2016 the lopsided advantages they enjoyed among them in 2012.
The latest Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll, conducted by FTI Consulting's strategic communications practice, surveyed 1,000 adults from April 5 to 9, via landline and cell phone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that African-Americans, Hispanics, members of the millennial generation ages 18-29, and college-educated white women were less likely than the public overall to reject the argument that government is more the problem to the country's challenges than the solution. They are, in fact, more likely.