In Pursuit of Working-Class Voters

For all the tough attacks the Obama campaign is unleashing against Mitt Romney over his record at Bain Capital, what's gone largely underreported is that the very blue-collar voters the president is trying to reach are resistant to his message.

As my colleague Ron Brownstein pointed out last week, both the Quinnipiac and ABC News/Washington Post national polls showed Obama hitting a new all-time low with white, blue-collar men, only pulling in the upper-20s in that demographic. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, where those voters are plentiful, state polling shows Romney's unfavorables spiking but undecided voters remaining on the sidelines.

The Obama campaign's hope is that these voters, dissatisfied with both candidates, end up hesitantly supporting Obama - or just stay home. Romney is in Pittsburgh today, attempting to win over these disillusioned voters with the campaign attacking the administration for directing government loans to corporations run by the president's supporters. Obama is up with an ad airing in Pennsylvania only, questioning whether Romney avoided paying his fair share in taxes. Both messages paint the picture of the well-connected getting breaks that the working class would never receive.

Some have portrayed the campaign's overall negativity and lack of substance as a race to the bottom. But it's also reflective of the fact that both candidates lack any real connection to working-class voters.Those economically-struggling voters make up a large chunk of the undecideds in key Rust Belt battlegrounds. They have been trending in the Republicans' direction. And they disapprove of the president's performance. But Romney has been making it awfully hard for them to embrace him enthusiastically.