- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 5, 2004

As President Bush’s polling numbers falter, Democrats begin salivating over the prospect of winning the November elections. So everyone is asking: What demographic group holds the key to election success?

The answer: white men, who represent a whooping 45 million of the total U.S. electorate.

Back in 1976, Jimmy Carter attracted a majority of white male voters to seal his underdog Presidential bid. But around that time, the Democratic Party began viewing women as one of its core constituencies, and to define women’s needs through the lens of radical feminism. Not surprisingly, white men began to abandon the Democratic Party in droves.

So by the 2000 elections, only 36 percent of white men voted for Al Gore, compared to an impressive 60 percent for George W. Bush. To Democratic pollsters like Celinda Lake, that was a demographic disaster. In the 2002 midterm elections, white men came through again, handing Republicans control of the Senate.

So now Ms. Lake argues the Democrats will never win the White House unless they begin to reach out to the massive group she dubbed the NASCAR Dads. Indeed, the male gap has become so worrisome the liberal New York Times recently ran an article of advice on revving up the NASCAR vote.

But the article’s jocular tone — “Yes, Democrats can win (some) white male voters” — reveals the Democratic establishment does not intend to take seriously the concerns of white men. Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s former campaign manager, says breezily about Kerry’s efforts to connect with this group, “The only thing he hasn’t done is sit down with a six-pack and chew tobacco with them.”

Ms. Brazile further confirms Democratic cluelessness when she says: “White males, especially working class males, care about their jobs, and they care about things like health care.” That is about as profound as saying mothers care about their babies. — because Ms. Brazile fails to explain why millions of men have fled the Democratic Party since 1976.

If the Democrats really want to attract the white male vote, they have to overcome two major hurdles:

First, white men are likely the primary breadwinners for their families. They view higher taxes as an obstacle to their being good providers. A poll by ABC News and The Washington Post found 70 percent of men favored smaller government, but only 48 percent of women were in accord. So men are far likelier to view big government as part of the problem, not the solution.

Second, men (and many women, as well) have tired of the Democrats’ endless pandering to female voters. On his Web site, John Kerry promises, “As president, I will put American government and our legal system back on the side of women” It is doubtful anyone still believes the U.S. government is not on the side of women.

Running these canards reveals an unsettling truth — to win the female vote, Mr. Kerry believes he must continually nurture women’s sense of grievance and victimization. Is that John Kerry’s concept of female empowerment?

True, Mr. Kerry has begun appearing in photo-ops in full hunting regalia, thinking it will get him in good with the rednecks. But how many millionaire Massachusetts preppies know the difference between a shotgun and a pea-shooter?

Despite all the consciousness-raising by Celinda Lake, Democrats have made no headway in bringing white men back into the fold. According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, John Kerry is stuck with exactly the same numbers as Al Gore: 36 percent of the white male electorate.

So it appears history will repeat itself Tuesday, Nov. 2.


Mr. Roberts is a writer and media analyst.

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