If Republicans will study the returns from Massachusetts, then review the returns from Virginia and New Jersey, light will fall upon the path to victory over Barack Obama in 2012.
Obama defeated John McCain by winning the black vote 24 to one, the Hispanic vote two to one and taking a larger share of the white vote, 44 percent, than did John Kerry or Al Gore. As the white vote was three-fourths of the national turnout, Obama coasted to victory.
Now consider Massachusetts. In the 2008 election, no less than 79 percent of the voters were white, and Obama carried them by 20 points, winning the state 62 to 36.
How did Scott Brown turn that 26-point deficit into a six-point victory? By winning the white vote as massively as did Obama. While there are no exit polls to prove it, we do have exit polls from Virginia and New Jersey, which tend to corroborate it.
Bob McDonnell won the Virginia governor's race by 17, while McCain lost Virginia by six. As McDonnell did equally poorly with African-Americans, losing the black vote 90 to nine, while McCain's lost it 92 to eight, what explains his Virginia landslide?
The white vote. McDonnell won Virginia's white vote 68 to 32, though his opponent was a downstate Democrat more conservative than the Northern Virginia candidates he beat in the primary.
In New Jersey, same story. McCain won 8 percent of the black vote. Gov. Chris Christie won 8 percent of the black vote. How did Christie turn a McCain loss of New Jersey by 16 points into a five-point victory?
The white vote. McCain won the white vote in New Jersey 50 to 49, but Christie won the white vote 59 to 34, almost two to one.
Republicans have won three major races -- two of them upsets and one a Massachusetts miracle -- because the white share of the vote in all three rose as a share of the total vote, and Republicans swept the white vote in Reagan-like landslides.
What explains the white surge to the GOP?
First, sinking white support for Obama, seen as ineffectual in ending the recession and stopping the loss of jobs.
Second, a growing perception that Obama is biased. When the president blurted that the Cambridge cops and Sgt. James Crowley "acted stupidly" in arresting black Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates -- a rush to judgment that proved wrong -- his support sank in white America and especially in Massachusetts, where black Gov. Deval Patrick joined in piling on Crowley. Deval is now in trouble, too.
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