by Jamelle Bouie
As a data dump, Ron Brownstein's piece in the National Journal about the "white flight" of voters from the Democratic Party is fantastic. In 2010, 60 percent of whites nationwide supported Republican candidates for the House of Representatives, an unprecedented gain for the party. Likewise, Republican Senate candidates improved on their share of the white vote relative to 2008. What's more, white voters show deep hostility to President Obama's agenda. 65 percent of whites disapprove of the president's performance—compared to 22 percent of nonwhites—and 49 percent of whites said they strongly disapproved. Those whites, as Brownstein notes, voted Republican by a ratio of 18-to-1.
Of course, this isn't new; whites have long been a minority partner in the Democratic coalition. As Brownstein points out, "No Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976 has captured as much as 45 percent of white voters, according to exit polls. And not since 1992 have whites given half or more of their votes to Democratic congressional candidates." But in the last two years, the pace of white flight from the Democratic Party has accelerated. In the Midwest, the Democratic share of the white vote fell to 37 percent, and in the South, it completely bottomed out, with Democrats winning a scant 24 percent of the white vote in House elections.