Campaign officials say the program has been in the works from the earliest planning stages and that it was always their intention to maximize support from key voter groups. The difference now, they say, is that unlike in the frenetic primary contest and short general election campaign of 2008, Obama and his team have the luxury of time to establish a more expansive strategy, with 14 months still to go before the election.
The campaign officials say they have not given up on wooing independents, and the 2012 presidential election will certainly involve a fierce fight for the college-educated whites and suburbanites who were more likely to back Obama in 2008 than the working-class whites who have always been more skeptical.
President Barack Obama says the best way to put Americans back to work is by passing the jobs bill he sent to Congress two weeks ago. Obama spoke Saturday night at the annual awards banquet of the Congressional Black Caucus. (Sept. 24)
Responding to claims his "Buffett rule" is class warfare, President Obama on Thursday said asking a billionaire to pay same tax rate as a teacher makes him "warrior for the middle class." (Sept. 22)
“What will matter most to Americans of all backgrounds boils down to this: the President is fighting every day to provide economic security for the middle class and to make the economy more fair, while the Republicans want to double down on policies that led to the challenges we face,” campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an e-mail.
Exit polls showed that Obama won 43 percent of the white vote in 2008 — in the typical range for a Democrat — but Gallup shows that his approval rating among whites now stands at less than a third.
Ultimately, the Obama strategy for reaching independents will depend largely on whom the GOP nominates; polls suggest a variation in how the different Republican candidates might perform with that group.
Still, the formula for Obama comes down to this: convincing enough additional minorities and core liberals to turn out and vote next year to make up for a loss of support from centrist and conservative whites.
The focus on key ethnic and liberal groups is far more robust this time, aides say, as the campaign scours battleground states where the election is likely to be decided on the margins.
“It’s more comprehensive” than four years ago, said a campaign official, speaking anonymously to discuss internal strategy. As an illustration, the official pointed to a state with heavy concentrations of blacks and Hispanics. “How do we look at Florida and look at the makeup of that state and get to 50 percent plus one?”
Obama’s approval ratings
Recent surveys showing the president’s approval rating in the 40s outline the challenge for the campaign. Even among minorities and other core Democrats, Obama has work to do.
A Washington Post-ABC poll published last week showed that while African Americans continue to view the president favorably in overwhelming numbers, the proportion of blacks expressing strongly positive views of Obama has dropped 25 points since mid-April — from 83 percent to 58 percent. His “favorable” rating has slipped below 50 percent among those age 18 to 29. And among all liberal Democrats, that number has dropped from 69 percent in April to 52 percent.
The minority share of the overall electorate is expected to rise — it was slightly more than a quarter in 2008 — giving Obama a head start.
Gallup, meanwhile, has found that Obama’s approval rating has dropped among Jews, as well — a point driven home this month when Republicans scored a surprise special-election victory in a heavily Jewish New York City House district long held by Democrats.