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Will white men save Mitt Romney?
The GOP candidate is lagging behind among women and minorities. His big lead over Obama among middle-class whites, however, is keeping the race close
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan greet supporters at a NASCAR Technical Institute rally on Aug. 12 in North Carolina: The Republican ticket still has a big lead among white voters.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan greet supporters at a NASCAR Technical Institute rally on Aug. 12 in North Carolina: The Republican ticket still has a big lead among white voters.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

"After decades of taking a back seat to the growing voting demographics of women and Latinos," says Lois Romano at Politico, "middle-class white men are finding themselves front and center again." They are being intensely courted by both President Obama, whose support among white voters has dipped since 2008, and Mitt Romney, who needs to maintain his big lead among white males to offset his weakness among women, blacks, and the fast-growing Latino demographic. Obama has been downing beers and accusing Romney of pushing tax cuts for the rich. Romney has been eating hot dogs with NASCAR fans and hammering Obama for failing to restore jobs lost in the "man-cession". The latest polls show Romney is holding onto a 20-percentage-point lead among white men, who have broken heavily for GOP presidential candidates for decades, although his advantage is down from 24 points last month. Will Romney be able to hold onto enough of the white vote to put him over the top?

White turnout could save Romney: Obama got a boost in 2008 from a surge in turnout among Democratic-leaning black and Latino voters, says Keith Backer at Battleground Watch. And the thing that might have sunk Republican John McCain in several close swing states was a one-percent dip in white turnout. This year, "an increasingly enthusiastic bloc of white voters" is itching to vote against Obama "based on his poor record in office," and that could make all the difference for Romney.
"The reality of 2012 voter turnout: The white voter"

But Romney is alienating many white voters: When Romney belittled the "47 percent" as welfare addicts, says Brent Budowsky at The Hill, he thought he was "dog-whistling an insult that applies to 'them,' i.e., minorities." What he failed to understand is that there are many low-income or jobless white males "who are protected from dying of starvation by programs such as food stamps." You can't win by insulting the very voters you're counting on.
"Why Romney is losing"

White voters might save the GOP... this time: If Romney "succeeds at framing the election as a referendum on Obama's record and the lagging economy," the race might tip in his favor, says Husna Haq at The Christian Science Monitor. And if it does, middle-class white voters will be the ones who carry Romney over the finish line. Still, the GOP can't survive on anti-immigrant, anti-government policies that please angry white men forever. If it doesn't address its "minority problem" soon," the party "risks going the way of the Whigs it replaced in the 1850s."
"Can GOP survive its minority problem?"

Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.

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