In national surveys, Obama's best group among whites is invariably college-educated white women, who gave him a 52 percent majority in 2008, significantly better than his showing among the other three groups of white voters. Recent national polls show Obama again drawing between 50 percent of those women (last week's Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor) and 54 percent of them (September surveys by ABC News/Washington Post and the Pew Research Center).
The latest battleground surveys similarly show Obama winning at least 50 percent of college-educated white women in every state except Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina, and exceeding 55 percent support among them in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In most states, he runs better with these women voters than any other group of whites.
Obama's weakest group among whites in national polling is noncollege white men, who gave him only 39 percent of their votes last time. He is polling at that level or lower again, and in the recent round of state surveys, he draws only 40 percent or fewer of these men in every state except Michigan, New Hampshire,Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Likewise, the recent national surveys generally find Obama running slightly below the 43 percent he won in 2008 among college-educated white men. In most of the battleground states (including Colorado, Florida,Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia), the polls show the president coming in around 40 percent with them; he's running best with them in Iowa and Wisconsin.
The biggest divergence between these battleground-state polls and national surveys is Obama's performance among white women without a college education. These women have tilted Republican in every presidential election since 1980 except 1996, and in 2008, Obama won only 41 percent of them. The three recent national surveys showed Obama attracting between 35 percent (Heartland Monitor) and 44 percent (Pew) of their votes.
But in the battleground states, especially in the Midwest, Obama's performance is stronger. Among these women, the state-level polls show Obama drawing 46 percent in Michigan, 48 percent in Florida, 49 percent in Nevada, 50 percent in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, 51 percent in Pennsylvania, and 52 percent in Ohioand Iowa. Obama still lags badly among them only in North Carolina and Virginia, where many blue-collar whites are also evangelical Christians, and to a lesser extent Colorado.
Beyond the opposition's portrayal of Romney as obtuse to the problems of working families, both sides agree that he has been hurt among blue-collar women by the skirmishes over defunding Planned Parenthood and access to contraception in health insurance. Many of these women view such women's-health matters not as moral issues but as practical pocketbook concerns. The combined effect of all this is measured in the most recent CBS News/New York Times/Quinnipiac survey in Ohio, which found that while about three-fifths of noncollege women agreed that Obama "cares about the needs and problems of people like you," roughly an equal number of them said Romney did not.