Inside This Week’s Cover Story

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, addresses the crowd during a campaign event at the Waukesha County Expo Center, Sunday, Aug. 12, 20102, in Waukesha, Wis. 
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Sept. 5, 2013, 4:20 p.m.

This much is un­dis­puted: In 2012, Pres­id­ent Obama lost white voters by a lar­ger mar­gin than any win­ning pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate in U.S. his­tory. In his reelec­tion, Obama lost ground from 2008 with al­most every con­ceiv­able seg­ment of the white elect­or­ate. With sev­er­al key groups of whites, he re­cor­ded the weak­est na­tion­al per­form­ance for any Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee since the Re­pub­lic­an land­slides of the 1980s. 

In 2012, Obama won a smal­ler share of white Cath­ol­ics than any Demo­crat since Jimmy Carter in 1980; lost groups ran­ging from white seni­ors to white wo­men to white mar­ried and blue-col­lar men by the widest mar­gin of any Demo­crat since Ron­ald Re­agan routed Wal­ter Mondale in 1984; and even lost among Demo­crat­ic-lean­ing col­lege-edu­cated wo­men by the widest mar­gin since Mi­chael Duka­kis in 1988, ac­cord­ing to the latest Na­tion­al Journ­al ana­lys­is of the trends that shape the al­le­gi­ances of Amer­ic­an voters. 

And yet, be­hind rous­ing sup­port from minor­it­ies every­where, and of­ten much more com­pet­it­ive show­ings among whites in both Demo­crat­ic-lean­ing and battle­ground states, Obama not only won reelec­tion but won fairly com­fort­ably. 

Few de­cisions may carry great­er con­sequences for the Re­pub­lic­an Party in 2016 than how it in­ter­prets these facts. The key ques­tion fa­cing the GOP is wheth­er Obama’s 2012 per­form­ance rep­res­ents a struc­tur­al Demo­crat­ic de­cline among whites that could deep­en even fur­ther in the years ahead — or a floor from which the next Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee is likely to im­prove.

In this week’s cov­er story, Na­tion­al Journ­al‘s Ron­ald Brown­stein talks about the chan­ging white elect­or­ate and its im­pact on polit­ic­al parties. Watch the video above for an in­ter­view with the au­thor.

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