An array of new national and battleground state polling underscores the critical role that working-class white voters in the upper Midwest are playing as perhaps the last line of defense for President Obama in an election that continues to tilt slightly against him.
Several national surveys in recent days have found Obama falling below the critical 40 percent level of support among likely white voters that he'll roughly need to hit to amass a national majority, assuming he matches his 80 percent showing among all minorities from 2008.
If the NBC News/Wall Street Journal's polls from late September and October are merged together, the results show that Obama trails Republican Mitt Romney among white voters by 58 percent to 37 percent, according to figures provided to National Journal by Bill McInturff, the Republican pollster who co-directs the survey with Democrat Peter Hart. Compared to 2008, the combined poll results show, Obama has lost ground among both white men and women, and those with and without college degrees.
Those combined results found Obama drawing just 34 percent of white men without a college degree (down from 39 percent in 2008) and a stunningly low 32 percent of college-educated white men (down sharply from 43 percent in 2008). He's slipped also among non-college white women, the so-called waitress moms, drawing 38 percent in the combined results, down from 41 percent in 2008.