Obama’s Wedge Issues and Achilles Heel

National Journal‘s Ron Brownstein takes a long look at the latest national survey from the new polling partnership USAToday/Pew, and discovers, unsurprisingly, that Obama’s 2012 voter coalition likes his current agenda in pretty much the same proportions as they supported him last November. There are even some “wedge” issues he’s exploiting:

Solid majorities of noncollege and older whites, for instance, backed the minimum-wage increase. Even noncollege whites and college-educated white men would stress renewable energy over fossil-fuel development. The assault-weapons ban generated substantial majority support from the college-educated white men, noncollege white women, and older whites. Background checks on sales at gun shows won support from over three-fourths of every group analyzed, including noncollege white men.

But as was the case during much of his first term, Obama does have an achilles heel: one element of his coalition, under-30 whites, isn’t jazzed about his economic leadership and could defect if the economy doesn’t improve:

While about two-thirds of African-Americans gave him positive marks for his economic performance, they were joined by only 52 percent of Hispanics, 44 percent of college-educated white women—and, most notably, just 40 percent of all adults ages 18 to 29 and only 31 percent of younger whites. Indeed, Obama’s economic approval rating among all whites stood at a microscopic 31 percent.

Given the job prospects of young Americans right now, there’s nothing surprising about those numbers, but Obama’s status with this constituency bears watching, particularly in the unlikely event that the GOP comes up with an actual economic agenda and keeps The Crazy under wraps for a while.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.