Democrats Talk of Wooing White Men

Article excerpt

THIS MINORITY is tired of being bashed and has put the Democratic Party on the alert - ignore it at the party's peril.

The minority in question?

White males. They've had it.

That's the message that some say was delivered loud and clear in the November election - nationally and in Missouri.

Some exit polls reported that only 37 percent of the nation's white males voted for Democrats for Congress on Nov. 8.

Missouri, ever the bellwether state, fits the national mold. A pre-election Missouri poll conducted by the Public Policy Research Centers at the University of Missouri at St. Louis found that more than 60 percent of the white male participants were leaning toward Republican U.S. Senate nominee John Ashcroft, who subsequently won.

The losing Democrat, Alan Wheat, had the backing of only one in five white males surveyed, said research centers director Lance LeLoup. He supervised the poll, conducted late in October.

With such findings as a backdrop, it shouldn't be surprising that talk of white-male rage was rampant at the Democratic Leadership Council's national meeting in Washington last week. The DLC sees itself as the party's moderate wing; many of Missouri's top Democratic officeholders are members, including Gov. Mel Carnahan.

Said Toby Paone, one of the Missouri delegates: "There was open discussion about the need for the Democratic Party to attract whites in general - and white males in particular - who abandoned the Democratic Party to a significant degree in the November election."

Black voter turnout, a variable often blamed as a contributor to poor Democratic showings, couldn't be a scapegoat this time, Paone said. The DLC got figures showing that more blacks went to the polls this November than in 1992 and 1990. The exit polls show that the percentage of black voters siding with the Democrats remained unchanged this November - about 90 percent.

The Missouri poll numbers were slightly different; about 15 percent of the likely black voters said they planned to vote Republican on Nov. 8.

Nationally, exit polls show that the Democrats lost about 20 percent of the independents who voted Democratic in 1992, and about one-seventh of their 1992 supporters who earned $15,000 a year or less.

The Missouri poll made no conclusions based on income. But, in its query of likely voters who call themselves independents, the poll found that only about 20 percent planned to vote Democratic. Almost half leaned Republican.

As a white male himself, Paone adds that he understands what's going on in many white-male minds. …