Power Play Update: Poll Check – Losing the Middle

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The shock poll of the day is the AP-GfK survey that shows Democrats trailing Republicans among white voters without college degrees by 22 points, double the margin of 2008.

This group, rather presumptuously and a bit condescendingly referred to as "working-class whites" (many do little work and many others are very successful), makes up 40 percent of the electorate and has heavy concentrations in battleground states like Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin.

While this group has generally voted Republican since the seismic shifts during the cultural revolution of the 1960s, these kinds of margins suggest real problems for Democrats. As discussed in today's Early Intel, this is the core group on which Democrats rely to stay competitive in the Midwest and Appalachia.

But these are also the voters who can make races in places like Massachusetts and New York suddenly competitive. When you break down Scott Brown's January Senate victory, white, male voters without college degrees are at the core.

The great irony for Democrats is that they have made the "working class" the center of their pitch in the Obama era. President Obama can hardly clear his throat without mentioning "middle class tax cuts" and "protect the middle class."

But forcing through his health care law, pushing global-warming legislation and resisting calls for an illegal immigration crackdown have left blue collar workers feeling suspicious about the Democratic agenda. Power Play suggests that being that politicians telling "working class" voters that legislation is good for them even if they don't like it is a poor way to convince a skeptical American middle.

Once again, the very items that fire up the base tend to turn off the center.