Michael D. Shear and Jon Cohen report:
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama holds a 2 to 1 edge over Republican Sen. John McCain among the nation’s low-wage workers, but many are unconvinced that either presidential candidate would be better than the other at fixing the ailing economy or improving the health-care system, according to a new national poll. Obama’s advantage is attributable largely to overwhelming support from two traditional Democratic constituencies: African Americans and Hispanics. But even among white workers — a group of voters that has been targeted by both parties as a key to victory in November — Obama leads McCain by 10 percentage points, 47 percent to 37 percent, and has the advantage as the more empathetic candidate.
This polling shows that the concern from Team Clinton that Obama would not do well with the group was silly. But this ain’t exactly settled either:
Still, one in six of the white workers polled remains uncommitted to either candidate. And a majority of those polled, both white and minority, are ambivalent about the impact of the election, saying that no matter who wins, their personal finances are unlikely to change … In May, as the race between Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton raged on, McCain adviser Charlie Black told reporters that the campaign would reach out to working-class white voters, in part because of Obama’s difficulties wresting such voters from the Clinton camp. “Senator Obama doesn’t appear to have the ability to hold the traditional Democratic coalition together as well as Mrs. Clinton might,” he said at the time. In an interview last week, Black said the campaign still plans to target working-class white voters, particularly by appealing to them on economic and energy issues. Jobs and gasoline prices are “very big to people in that income range,” Black said. Nearly two-thirds of the white workers surveyed want the government to make lower gas prices a “top priority,” something McCain pitched earlier this year in advocating for a suspension of the federal gas tax. One respondent was particularly clear on this point: “I’ll vote for whoever can bring the price of gas down,” said Brian Levesque, 25, a social worker from Lansdale, Pa. But slightly more, seven in 10, say government should focus on helping people like them find more affordable health insurance, a core component of Obama’s campaign. Fewer, just over four in 10, favor placing a top priority on tax cuts or the creation of new jobs through an expansion of public works projects.
Pandering with ineffective but nice sounding energy policies has become McCain’s stock in trade. And free lunch tax cuts for everyone have been the GOP play book as far back as 1980. It’s not leadership but it has helped the GOP in the past.