President Obama's embrace of gay marriage, as we noted in a recent post, has the potential to reinforce his support among well-educated white voters while deepening his difficulties among blue-collar whites. Divergent attitudes about the economy seem likely to harden that division as well.
On Wednesday, Gallup released new national results showing that while a plurality of Americans remains negative on their immediate financial situation, a strong majority expects to be better off one year from now. The variation in those attitudes follows tracks familiar from the gay rights debate.
As we noted, polls show much more support for gay marriage among college-educated white voters (especially women) than those without advanced degrees. Those upscale whites, Gallup found, are also somewhat more satisfied with their immediate economic situation and more optimistic about their trajectory over the next year.
Overall, Gallup found that 37 percent of adults say their economic situation has improved over the past year, while 42 percent said they are worse off and 20 percent describe themselves as essentially standing in place. On that measure, according to figures provided by Gallup, blue-collar whites are deeply discouraged: just 24 percent of non-college white women, and 26 percent of non-college white men say they are better off than a year ago. Nearly twice as many respondents in both groups say they are worse off than twelve months ago.