The Corner

Health Care

How Not to Convince White Working-Class Voters

Dan McLaughlin has a thorough analysis of Bernie Sanders’s performance among white working-class voters over on the homepage. He sifts through reams of exit polling and examines the political and rhetorical changes that precipitated Sanders’s failure to entice voters in that demographic.

McLaughlin notes that part of Sanders’s poor showing among whites without college degrees is a product of his opponent. Whatever his flaws, Joe Biden does not engender the sort of antipathy among uneducated white voters that Hillary Clinton does. Whether sexism or legitimate disdain — I suspect it is the latter — Biden was a less reliable foil for Sanders among working-class whites than Hillary.

One point that McLaughlin omits is Sanders’s focus on abortion, which he has used to distinguish himself from Joe Biden:

Joe Biden in the past has voted for what is called the Hyde Amendment, that said that women could not use Medicaid dollars in order to protect their reproductive rights and get an abortion. I am proud to tell you that I have a 100 percent pro-choice voting record throughout my entire life. I believed then, and I believe now, that it is women who have a right to control their own bodies, not the government.

Voters without college degrees are significantly more likely than those with a college education to support abortion restrictions and to call themselves pro-life. To the extent that they remain in the party, voters without college degrees are among the most culturally conservative blocs in the Democratic coalition. If they are moved at all by Sanders’s celebration of his “100 percent pro-choice voting record,” it is probably not in the senator’s direction.