So how do you figure this?
When Barack Obama was running for president, he was constantly being derided by his Republican opponent, John McCain, and McCain’s running mate, Alaska governor Sarah Palin, for his time as a community organizer in Chicago.
He had never run a state, they railed. He had never run a business, they ranted. Therefore, they asked, how could he run a country?
Enough white voters, however, trusted Obama enough to let him run this nation in the midst of the worse economic recession in two decades. And since that time, the lightweight community organizer has managed to do heavyweight things that his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, couldn’t do – like save General Motors and rid the world of Osama bin Laden.
Sure unemployment is still high, but at 8.2 percent it’s lower than the more than 10 percent unemployment during the first year of Obama’s term. Also, according to The Washington Post, job creation under Obama has averaged around 71,000 a month since the end of the recession in 2009.
That’s not enough to return the nation to prosperity, but certainly an indication that what he’s doing is working.
But the way it looks right now, some white voters aren’t seeing the progress. What they’re seeing is a black man who couldn’t live up to their Messianic expectations.
Because how else do you explain why middle-income whites are now leaning toward Mitt Romney?
Unlike Obama, Romney did run a state – Massachusetts. Also unlike Obama, he didn’t have to work with racist lawmakers who were more obsessed with breaking him than building citizen’s lives.
Yet with all he had going for him, Romney couldn’t pull his state up from being ranked 47th out of 50 in job creation. Under him, Massachusetts lost 14 percent of its manufacturing jobs.
And Romney’s so-called business acumen also led him to urge that GM and Chrysler be allowed to go broke – advice that he’s now trying to backtrack on, and advice that would have virtually destroyed the U.S. auto industry and spawned more joblessness.
Yet he brags that his experience as a governor and a businessman uniquely qualifies him to cure the rampant unemployment that still grips too much of the nation.
And sadly, it looks like a lot of the white folks who can least afford Romney are buying what he’s saying.
According to Gallup, Romney leads Obama among middle-income whites by 56 percent to 37 percent. That 19 percentage point lead is higher than the 14-point lead Romney holds among upper income whites, and, believe it or not, the 10-point lead he holds among poor white people.
Non-white people of all income levels, however, prefer Obama over Romney by margins ranging from 68 to 52 percentage points.
These numbers, while still early, say a lot – namely that race still matters in America.
I’m not surprised that poor whites would support Romney. They’ve always chosen whiteness over their economic self-interest.
But middle-income whites are the ones with the most to lose if Romney wins – because he’s a guy who doesn’t mind exporting the kind of jobs they have to China and to other countries where people will work cheaper.
I mean, if this guy wanted to kill GM, and saw his state lose manufacturing jobs, do they really think he gives a crap about them?
Chances are that’s not what they’re thinking.
What they’re probably thinking is that they gave Obama, a black man, the privilege of being in a position normally held by white men, and because he hasn’t made the streets flow with milk and honey, he’s a failure.
So Gallup’s poll numbers reveal that Obama isn’t immune from the double standards and unrealistic expectations that many black people face every day.
They reveal how easy it is for white people to overlook a black person’s successes in the face of nearly insurmountable odds to give credit to a mediocre white person like Romney; a man who didn’t face the same odds, but who didn’t come close to accomplishing what Obama has managed to do so far.
Maybe between now and November, these middle-class white voters will wake up. Because if they’re choosing Romney because they believe they’ll be better off economically, his record doesn’t show that.
No matter that he was a governor instead of a community organizer.