I’ll admit that I’m highlighting this Washington Examiner article largely because of the dateline — Upper Arlington, Ohio — the snooty Columbus suburb where my parents taught high school students for many years. But beyond that personal connection, Tim Carney‘s exploration of Mitt Romney’s support among “upper-middle class, heavily educated white moderates” does offer some valuable electoral insights.
Scott James, and thousands like him in Cleveland’s bedroom communities, bought into the Obama line. Now he sees it as a myth. Obamacare showed James that the president wasn’t the postpartisan problem solver he wanted: “You take something that 60 percent of Americans don’t agree with, and you cram it down our throats.”
Scott and Shelley have already voted for Romney.
James Hilditch told me the same story down at the Rusty Bucket [in Upper Arlington]. In 2008, Obama was “saying all the right stuff,” Hilditch said. When Obama said Bush’s doubling the debt to $10 trillion was “immoral,” it won over Hilditch.
Today, as Hilditch put it, “we’re up to our asses in debt.” Hilditch is switching to Romney, too, saying Obama’s mishandling of the deadly Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attack finally convinced him.
For these white-collar voters, Romney might be nearly the perfect Republican — heavily educated, non-ideological, nearly silent on social issues, and a proven problem solver. Upper Arlington and Avon are impressed by a successful businessman.
Romney’s Ohio sidekick, Sen. Rob Portman, is the right guy for the affluent, white vote. More conservative in mien than in politics, Portman projects the bourgeois seriousness that assures the professional class. “He’s a smart guy,” Shelley James said. Portman won 70 percent in Upper Arlington in 2010 — 12 points higher than his statewide total.
By my rough math, Romney will need 56 percent in the Cleveland and Columbus suburbs to win Ohio. He needs tens of thousands of James Hilditches and Scott Jameses — whites who voted for Obama in 2008 voters but are abandoning him this year.