What Missouri Tells Us About Obama's Coalition

I’m a little surprised to see that Missouri is a toss-up in the presidential race, according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling. Obama has a 44 percent approval rating among Missouri voters, but gains 45 percent of the vote in a match-up with Mitt Romney, who has a 38 percent favorability rating and gets 44 percent of the vote.

In the cross-tabs, Obama maintains high support among Democratic base voters; 87 percent of African Americans support him, as well as 51 percent of other minorities. He gets 45 percent support from women, 81.5 percent support from liberals, and 64 percent support from young voters. Indeed, Obama’s continued strength in Missouri–which he lost by 1 percentage point in the 2008 election—might come from the fact that some of those groups, particularly young voters, were a greater percentage of the electorate in Missouri than they were nationally. Public Policy Polling doesn’t provide Obama’s support by education, but his high support among college-aged voters suggests 2008 levels of support among those with college degrees or some college. More importantly, it’s probably true that Obama is doing better with white college graduates than he is with whites as a whole.

If that’s true, then Missouri is a toss-up for the same reason that Virginia, Colorado and North Carolina are close; each state has a large electoral coalition of minorities, women, and college graduates, and Obama has maintained his support. This bodes well for the president, and narrows the scope of his mission for the election—if he can maintain his hold on those groups, achieve high turnout, and avoid a crushing loss with working-class whites, then he’ll leave the game with a win.