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Struggling White Voters Favor Mitt Romney? It Makes No Sense

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Polling described in a Washington Post article last week suggests that Mitt Romney holds significant advantages among white voters who are struggling financially.

Asked which candidate would do more to advance their families' economic interests, middle-class white voters who say they are struggling to maintain their financial positions chose Romney over Obama by a large margin -- 58 percent to 32 percent.

The former Massachusetts governor has a similar advantage on this question among white voters who have lost a job in recent years, or who have seen a family member or close friend face unemployment.

Nonwhite voters, struggling or not, give Obama huge leads over Romney when it comes to looking after their families' financial interests.

The results underscore a continuing challenge for Obama and the Democratic Party with white voters, and particularly those without college degrees -- who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are significantly more likely to be unemployed than those with higher education.

Indeed, among whites who described themselves as struggling to maintain their economic footing -- regardless of their current class -- nearly seven in 10 lacked a college diploma. And although they lean more Republican than the population in general, it is a group that neither party can ignore. In the new poll, 31 percent of these voters described themselves as Republicans, 27 percent as Democrats.

From an economic standpoint, these results make no sense.  Mitt Romney is no friend of middle-class white voters who are struggling to maintain their financial positions.

At Bain Capital, Romney sought over and over again to squeeze what little wealth these people have to line his own pockets.  As described here, and here, and here, Romney's modus operandi was to load up the companies he bought with debt (which he paid to himself and his partners in management fees and dividends), and then squeeze the workers in those companies so the company could service the new debt load.  Romney thought nothing of cutting wages, pensions, health insurance, profit-sharing, or jobs in search of more money for himself and Bain.

Moreover, as I wrote here, Romney intends to follow a parallel path with the national economy if he's elected President.  His plan is to push through tax cuts that reward the wealthiest Americans with hundreds of thousands of dollars apiece, on average, raise taxes on people at the bottom, and throw a tiny bone to people in the middle.  This will drive up the national debt, so Romney will couple his tax cuts with massive, draconian cuts to the very kind of government spending that helps middle-class white voters who are struggling financially.  Things like unemployment insurance, health insurance, food stamps, job training, and more.

By contrast, President Obama has fought at every turn for the interests of middle-class voters who are struggling. He hasn't won all these fights, but he's tried.  Given the Republican filibuster in the Senate his first two years, and the Republican House since 2010, many things have been difficult to accomplish.  The stimulus was smaller than it could have been, at the cost of more than a million jobs.  Extending unemployment benefits has been a huge fight, with the President forced to extend tax cuts for the rich for two years to buy a one-year extension for the long-term unemployed.  The debt ceiling fights have forced cuts to many programs.  One place the President won was in saving the auto industry.  Mitt Romney would have let it go bankrupt, at the cost of more than a million jobs, many of them held by white voters who are struggling to maintain their financial positions.

There is a serious disconnect here.  On economic issues, Mitt Romney would be a disaster for any middle class voter who is struggling financially.  Why do only some of those voters see it?

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