Espresso Roast

Gerard Baker has an insipidly shallow column at the Times of London comparing “latte liberals” and “Dunkin’ Doughnuts Democrats.”

The fault lines in the contest instead fall largely along differences in identity – ethnic and gender – and values. Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton have, as we have noted before, both established massive, almost identically sized coalitions of voting blocs aligned along these cleavages.

Mrs Clinton wins heavily among white women, older voters and Latinos. Where they voted in large numbers on Tuesday, she won by large margins.

Mr Obama won states where his following of younger voters, African-Americans and white men predominated.

But one other critical factor – the one that may ultimately determine who wins this race – is whether the voter is sinking or swimming in the modern economy.

Mr Obama wins disproportionately among people who may be considered the winners in the global economy: the well educated, the mobile and the financially secure. Mrs Clinton’s voters are the strugglers, the class that feels itself left behind by an increasingly unfair global economic system.

Now, let us ask ourselves, why would that be true? Bill Clinton’s NAFTA policy played a role in creating an increasingly unfair global economic system, after all. Last year Hillary Clinton made some noises about breaking with her husband’s policy on trade agreements. Still, Hillary Clinton is just not the first name that comes to mind when I ask myself, which would most likely try to do right by American workers?

Until recently, the answer to that question was “John Edwards.” Now I don’t know.

I went to their web sites to check out Obama’s and Clinton’s proposals on trade and jobs. I was surprised to find more detail on Obama’s site on these issues than I found on Clinton’s. I will put their proposals side-by-side below the fold for easy comparison. The important point is that they are putting out nearly identical talking points about job creation and trade, and neither has made these issues the centerpiece of his or her campaign. I don’t see how one could argue that one of these candidates would clearly and obviously provide better policies for the strugglers than the other.

Gerard Baker, however, seems to think that’s the case. He has decided that since lower-income voters tend to vote for Clinton, then if the economy continues to go south more and more Dem voters will flock to Clinton.

So who prevails? That may well depend on the state of the economy. The more voters worry about it and the less they focus on ideals, the better Mrs Clinton’s chances. For her, bad news is good news. …

… People are trading down from Starbucks to Dunkin’ Donuts. These may not be the best circumstances for Mr Obama’s soaring rhetoric of hope in the future. His hope has to be that things do not get so bad that fear overwhelms it.

In 1992 Bill Clinton rode to an election victory under the slogan, “The economy, stupid”. Sixteen years later, we could say, given the apparent inevitability of a recession and given Mrs Clinton’s strong following among the less well educated in American society, that it is an even more fitting message for his wife.

Notice the part about the “less well educated in American society.” Here’s another bit from Baker’s column:

Mrs Clinton’s largest single demographic voting bloc was those who did not complete a high school education, where she won 82 per cent, against just 15 per cent for Mr Obama. The more educated you became – from high school drop-out, through high school graduate then some college, college graduate and finally postgraduate – the more likely you were to vote for Mr Obama. The only category he won, in fact, was the propeller heads with postgraduate degrees.

The problem with Baker’s theory is that people who already are well educated will not become less well educated if the economy continues to deteriorate. Of course, there’s always a chance that toxic chemicals from products made in China will damage their brains. But I see no compelling reason for a well-educated individual to switch allegiance from Obama to Clinton if he is, for example, laid off.

However, I suggest there may be other reasons why the less well-educated prefer Clinton to Obama. And I think the big one starts with an “r.”

Although you can find racism in all strata of our society, in my long and tired experience low-income, undereducated whites tend to be far more overtly and unabashedly racist than upwardly mobile, educated ones. I don’t have any sociological data to confirm that, so I’ll call this a hypothesis. And I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions, and please note that I’m not saying Clinton supporters are all racists, any more than Obama supporters are all sexists. But I postulate that some of those low-educated voters may just not be ready to vote for a black man. Having a white woman as a head of state may feel less alien to them. Most of them have mothers, after all.

Another factor is low information. Undereducated voters may think they know something about Hillary Clinton (exactly what is anyone’s guess), but Obama is a total unknown to them. And since they don’t read newspapers or follow politics closely, they probably aren’t learning much about him, either.

BTW, there’s a new Starbucks about to open in my neighborhood. It will be across the street from Dunkin’ Doughnuts, which makes a pretty decent latte.

The candidates on jobs and trade.

From Hillary Clinton’s web site:

As president, Hillary will:

Lower taxes for middle class families by: extending the middle class tax cuts including child tax credit and marriage penalty relief, offering new tax cuts for healthcare, college and retirement, and expanding the EITC and the child care tax credit.

Harness the power of innovation to create high wage jobs of the 21st Century. Investments in alternative energy can create new jobs for the 21st century; expanded access to broadband will bring opportunities to underserved and disadvantaged communities; the manufacturing base can be re-energized through creative partnerships; and increased government support for research will stimulate the development of new technologies and life-saving medicines. Hillary will restore integrity to science policy, reversing Bush administration policies that are holding our nation back.

Empower our workers and ensure that all Americans contribute their fair share. Hillary will ensure that unions, which have played an important role in forming and sustaining the middle class, are strong. She will also ensure that trade policies work for average Americans. Trade policy must raise our standard of living, and they must have strong protections for workers and the environment.

Restore the basic bargain. Hillary will restore the basic bargain that if Americans work hard and take responsibility, government will do its part to make sure they have the tools to get ahead.

Return to fiscal responsibility. After six and a half year of President Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility, Hillary wants America to regain control of its destiny. She will move back toward a balanced budget and surpluses. Hillary believes that we should develop a set of budget rules similar to those we had in the 90s which required us to fund new expenditures with new revenues or cuts in other areas.

From Barack Obama’s web site:

Barack Obama’s Plan

Provide Middle Class Americans Tax Relief

Obama will cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families to offset the payroll tax they pay.

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Obama will restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the tax relief they need. Obama will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans.

Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return. Experts estimate that the Obama proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees.


Obama believes that trade with foreign nations should strengthen the American economy and create more American jobs. He will stand firm against agreements that undermine our economic security.

Fight for Fair Trade: Obama will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs. He will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks. Obama will also pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports.

Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama believes that NAFTA and its potential were oversold to the American people. Obama will work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.

Improve Transition Assistance: To help all workers adapt to a rapidly changing economy, Obama would update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance by extending it to service industries, creating flexible education accounts to help workers retrain, and providing retraining assistance for workers in sectors of the economy vulnerable to dislocation before they lose their jobs.

Technology, Innovation and Creating Jobs

Obama will encourage the deployment of the most modern communications infrastructure to reduce the costs of health care, help solve our energy crisis, create new jobs, and fuel our economic growth.

Support Job Creation: Barack Obama believes we need to double federal funding for basic research and make the research and development tax credit permanent to help create high-paying, secure jobs. Obama will also make long-term investments in education, training, and workforce development so that Americans can leverage our strengths – our ingenuity and entrepreneurialism – to create new high-wage jobs and prosper in a world economy.

Invest in U.S. Manufacturing: The Obama comprehensive energy independence and climate change plan will invest in America’s highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the first wave of green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world. Obama will also provide assistance to the domestic auto industry to ensure that new fuel-efficient vehicles are built by American workers.

Create New Job Training Programs for Clean Technologies: The Obama plan will increase funding for federal workforce training programs and direct these programs to incorporate green technologies training, such as advanced manufacturing and weatherization training, into their efforts to help Americans find and retain stable, high-paying jobs. Obama will also create an energy-focused youth jobs program to invest in disconnected and disadvantaged youth.

Boost the Renewable Energy Sector and Create New Jobs: The Obama plan will create new federal policies, and expand existing ones, that have been proven to create new American jobs. Obama will create a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025, which has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs on its own. Obama will also extend the Production Tax Credit, a credit used successfully by American farmers and investors to increase renewable energy production and create new local jobs.

Deploy Next-Generation Broadband: Obama believes we can get broadband to every community in America through a combination of reform of the Universal Service Fund, better use of the nation’s wireless spectrum, promotion of next-generation facilities, technologies and applications, and new tax and loan incentives.

Protect the Openness of the Internet: Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some web sites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or nonprofit speakers, have the same opportunity as big companies to innovate and reach large audiences.

Invest in Rural Areas:
Obama will invest in rural small businesses and fight to expand high-speed Internet access. He will improve rural schools and attract more doctors to rural areas.


Obama will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

Obama will ensure that his labor appointees support workers’ rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year.

Ensure Freedom to Unionize: Obama believes that workers should have the freedom to choose whether to join a union without harassment or intimidation from their employers. Obama cosponsored and is strong advocate for the Employee Free Choice Act, a bipartisan effort to assure that workers can exercise their right to organize. He will continue to fight for EFCA’s passage and sign it into law.

Fight Attacks on Workers’ Right to Organize: Obama has fought the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) efforts to strip workers of their right to organize. He is a cosponsor of legislation to overturn the NLRB’s “Kentucky River” decisions classifying hundreds of thousands of nurses, construction, and professional workers as “supervisors” who are not protected by federal labor laws.

Protect Striking Workers: Obama supports the right of workers to bargain collectively and strike if necessary. He will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers, so workers can stand up for themselves without worrying about losing their livelihoods.

Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama will raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs.

Protect Homeownership and Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud

Obama will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders. He will also make sure homebuyers have honest and complete information about their mortgage options, and he will give a tax credit to all middle-class homeowners.

Create a Universal Mortgage Credit: Obama will create a 10 percent universal mortgage credit to provide homeowners who do not itemize tax relief. This credit will provide an average of $500 to 10 million homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.

Ensure More Accountability in the Subprime Mortgage Industry: Obama has been closely monitoring the subprime mortgage situation for years, and introduced comprehensive legislation over a year ago to fight mortgage fraud and protect consumers against abusive lending practices. Obama’s STOP FRAUD Act provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud, increases funding for federal and state law enforcement programs, creates new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty of fraud, and requires industry insiders to report suspicious activity.

Mandate Accurate Loan Disclosure: Obama will create a Homeowner Obligation Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan.

Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures:
Obama will create a fund to help people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to innocent homeowners. The fund will be partially paid for by Obama’s increased penalties on lenders who act irresponsibly and commit fraud.

Close Bankruptcy Loophole for Mortgage Companies: Obama will work to eliminate the provision that prevents bankruptcy courts from modifying an individual’s mortgage payments. Obama believes that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by outdated federal law.

Address Predatory Credit Card Practices

Obama will establish a five-star rating system so that every consumer knows the risk involved in every credit card. He also will establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to stop credit card companies from exploiting consumers with unfair practices.

Create a Credit Card Rating System to Improve Disclosure: Obama will create a credit card rating system, modeled on five-star systems used for other consumer products, to provide consumers an easily identifiable ranking of credit cards, based on the card’s features. Credit card companies will be required to display the rating on all application and contract materials, enabling consumers to quickly understand all of the major provisions of a credit card without having to rely exclusively on fine print in lengthy documents.

Establish a Credit Card Bill of Rights to Protect Consumers: Obama will create a Credit Card Bill of Rights to protect consumers. The Obama plan will:

Ban Unilateral Changes
Apply Interest Rate Increases Only to Future Debt
Prohibit Interest on Fees
Prohibit “Universal Defaults”
Require Prompt and Fair Crediting of Cardholder Payments

Reform Bankruptcy Laws

Obama will reform our bankruptcy laws to protect working people, ban executive bonuses for bankrupt companies, and require disclosure of all pension investments.

Cap Outlandish Interest Rates on Payday Loans and Improve Disclosure: Obama supports extending a 36 percent interest cap to all Americans. Obama will require lenders to provide clear and simplified information about loan fees, payments and penalties, which is why he’ll require lenders to provide this information during the application process.

Encourage Responsible Lending Institutions to Make Small Consumer Loans: Obama will encourage banks, credit unions and Community Development Financial Institutions to provide affordable short-term and small-dollar loans and to drive unscrupulous lenders out of business.

Reform Bankruptcy Laws to Protect Families Facing a Medical Crisis: Obama will create an exemption in bankruptcy law for individuals who can prove they filed for bankruptcy because of medical expenses. This exemption will create a process that forgives the debt and lets the individuals get back on their feet.

Work/Family Balance

Obama will double funding for after-school programs, expand the Family Medical Leave Act, provide low-income families with a refundable tax credit to help with their child-care expenses, and encourage flexible work schedules.

Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act: The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees. Obama will expand it to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. He will expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children’s academic activities; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence.

Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave: As president, Obama will initiate a strategy to encourage all 50 states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve a million more children. Obama will include measures to maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.

Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit:
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Obama will reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit for their child care expenses.

Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination: Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the workplace. Obama will enforce the recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on caregiver discrimination.

Expand Flexible Work Arrangements: Obama will create a program to inform businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules; help businesses create flexible work opportunities; and increase federal incentives for telecommuting. Obama will also make the federal government a model employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting employees to request flexible arrangements.

19 thoughts on “Espresso Roast

  1. Geez, my un-edumacated self is kinda ticked off.Why the hell can’t Iowa have dunkin donuts?

    On a more serious note, generally I agree with your hypothesis..I have seen it firsthand here in the bars, at motorcycle rallies and even at our state fair where “regular Joes” couldn’t help but talk in clusters after having been accosted by the long line of candidates themselves while our sorry, un-educated selves were just trying to scarf down as much junk food on sticks as we could consume and still walk back to our cars afterwards.

    For some time this really has bugged me.I think it bugs me so much because it amounts to “what do you hate less? Women in charge or black people” and at the core of it , it makes me sick…but maybe it is a good thing, because perhaps it could cause some of the people saying it to do a little self examination (and I would say they sure as hell could use it).I mean how many times can you ask that question without realizing you have some issues?

    I hope this forces people to look at their own issues, whether it be sexism or racism.(Or both).If we grow as a party, grow as people, no matter what our level of education that would be a great thing for our country

  2. If there really is something to this, your hypothesis makes sense. In my experience, people do seem to fall into these general groupings. As you say though, it is difficult to determine whether any of this really exists in these particular situations. Working class whites are also often anti-woman. I wonder whether there are other factors which are equally strong.

  3. Bush Sr in office for 4 years then Bill Clinton for 8 years, then Bush Junior for 8 years, now Hillary?

    That could be 28 years of presidents with two families. This isnt healthy I think.

  4. There may be something on the lack of information. Quite honestly I should be in the Clinton group because I am just a high school graduate and quite poor. I do not work because I had to quit a year and a half ago to take care of my elderly mother. I do have access to the internet(which I have taught myself how to use)and I have cable with its 24 cycle. I supported Edwards,but now have moved to Obama. This personal attack politics works better on less informed people. Simply because they are. Maybe Obama is right “We are the ones we have been waiting for”.
    Maha I check in and read your blog every few days since I saw you on C-Span one morning. Seems like a long time ago.

  5. Some ‘progressives’ aren’t really democrats. They didn’t like Bill Clinton, don’t care much for the working class and sure as hell don’t like the DLC, To their minds Clinton could have done more things their way if only he had tried. My sense is that some of the ‘progressives’ are former greens/Naderites. From my time being active in political action and local politics; there’s inevitably some who show up who want to usurp the group, take over and use it for their own agenda.

  6. Some ‘progressives’ aren’t really democrats.

    I think it’s more accurate to say that the Democratic Party isn’t really progressive. It’s a good development if lots of progressives get involved in Dem politics to pull the party into a more progressive direction. That way people may someday get a choice other than between the Corporate Party and the More Corporate Party.

  7. If we grow as a party, grow as people, no matter what our level of education that would be a great thing for our country

    We already have grown..whether Hillary or Obama win or lose won’t change the fact that America has been advanced by their candidacy. I was around before the civil rights struggle of the 60’s, and I remember the outright hatred for blacks displayed by some politicians in certain states. When I saw Obama secure political victories in those certain states…I knew American has grown in a spiritually measurable amount.
    If Bush would knock off the human rights violations, the wars, the torture, the scrapping of treaties, and the deceitfulness,America could be proud of what we’ve accomplished.
    Oh, and I think George Wallace got right with his maker before launching into eternity…I hope Bush does the same.

  8. Pingback: Pages tagged "hillary clinton"

  9. Clinton scores with poor voters (generally); Obama with wealthy Democrats. But when you look at campaing contributions, it runs the revrse ( Clinton has 3 times as many big-money contributors (($4,600) as Obama (33% Clinton vs 10% Obama). Look at the other end of the funraising scale

  10. OT (and not exactly news) but I’ve just gotta say it:

    Today’s “progressivism” is the ability to remain competent and socially conscionable regardless of global changes – pretty much the same as yesterday’s progressivism.

    As for conservatism, and after observing all the fun n games lately in Republicanland, it seems that today’s “conservativism” is to just remain – exactly what one remains being subject to each individual conservative’s interpretation. It’s been fascinating to watch lockstep righties all go off in all their own directions when most finally understood that their beloved Dubya had marched his lame ass over the cliff. If only Eisenhower was around to see all this.

  11. I like your work here, and I know you’re not asserting this as the gospel truth, but I’d be very careful before asserting that voters support someone you don’t like because they’re racist and stupid. I’d need a lot more empirical support than you’re giving here before I’d ever buy into that, and it’s potentially a very divisive and reckless argument to make.

  12. Scott — if you were to actually read all the words in the post (always advisable), you would have noticed that I am talking only about a particular class of people, namely whites with little education. After a lifetime of experience with these people, I assure you I have reason to suspect they are running from Obama because of racism and stupidity.

  13. And exactly how is that different from those guys who like to tell you, after a few too many, that they’ve been dealing with “those people” (blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Polish, Italian, Irish, etc.) all their lives and can tell you exactly how benighted they are?

  14. And exactly how is that different from those guys who like to tell you, after a few too many, that they’ve been dealing with “those people” (blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Polish, Italian, Irish, etc.) all their lives and can tell you exactly how benighted they are?

    For one thing, I’m talking about people I’m related to. I have deep white trash roots.

    You are free to disagree, and it’s possible I’m wrong because I am generalizing from some few encounters with lower-educated whites who are afraid of Obama because they are ignorant. (I mean, his middle name is Hussein, you know.) It’s just a hypothesis. But I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis.

    And now, little boy, that’s the end of the discussion. Further bickering by you will get you banned.

  15. Ken Melvin,
    You write, “Some ‘progressives’ aren’t really democrats. They didn’t like Bill Clinton, don’t care much for the working class and sure as hell don’t like the DLC.” The implication is that if you’re a REAL Democrat, and really care for the working class, you sure as hell ought to like the DLC. Your logic eludes me. The DLC are widely known as “Republican Lite,” and much of the disaffection with Hillary is due to this. I just googled “DLC” and “Republican Lite” and got 16,000 hits.

  16. How disappointing, Maha. I too thought you were painting those who disagreed with your choice of Obama as racist and stupid, before finding Scott’s comments here. And now you threaten to ban him for disagreeing. It’s early in the campaign season for that thin of a skin.

  17. No, Elliot, I didn’t threaten to ban Scott for disagreeing with me. I threatened to ban him for mischaracterizing what I wrote and for not dropping the argument after I had addressed his concerns.

    I get mightily annoyed with people who can’t read and who twist what I write into something other than what I actually wrote. As you say, it’s way too early in the election process for that kind of nasty, small-minded divisiveness. Which is why I’m banning you. Good bye.

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