Does This Surprise Anyone?

Obama Not Very Popular Among Wal-Mart Voters

Among those who said they shop regularly at Wal-Mart – a demographic group that Zogby has found to be both “value” and “values” voters – Obama is getting walloped by McCain. Winning 62% support from weekly Wal-Mart shoppers, McCain wins these voters at a rate similar to what President Bush won in 2004. Obama wins 24% support from these voters.

Aside from being “values voters” Wal-Mart shoppers also tend to middle-to-lower class citizens. Blue collar people in other words, and exactly the demographic Obama has been desperately trying to appeal to.

They, apparently, aren’t buying it. Which has got to be troubling for Obama, but perhaps not as troubling as losing 20% of the Democrats who supported Hillary. Given that Hillary received votes from 18 million Democrat primary voters, that’s a hefty voting bloc that appears to be prepared to go to McCain.

Oh, and by the way, McCain/Palin is polled at 47% in this survey. Obama/Biden was at 45%.

Why should there be any other expectation from a demographic that doesn’t care about anything more than getting the lowest price and ta heck with the cost they can’t see? False economy is fine, fine, fine. False admins: the same. Bring it on.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, as a blue-collar person and a regular shopper at Walmart, I felt the need to weigh in on this. First of all, I voted for Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and will vote for Obama in 2008. But I do know a lot of blue-collar folks who vote a solid Republican ticket–no matter who’s running. This is a source of great consternation for me–the fact that these people would vote consistently for candidates who do not have their best interests at heart (not to mention the best interests of our country as a whole). When I’ve asked them why, they usually say something like, “They believe in good, solid Christian values!” or, of course, the familiar “Because they are pro-life!” I think the Republicans, in general, have perfected the art of manipulating the minds of those of us who are less sophisticated and who cannot conceive of the reptilian nature of the minds of those who seek to manipulate. And, mind you, these people aren’t stupid–they’re just more easily swayed by emotional appeals and often more trusting. That being said, sometimes I just want to tear my hair out when they tell me they’re voting for “good, solid American values!” Also, I did feel compelled to mention that I shop regularly at Walmart myself. Yes, I’m aware they have some appalling corporate practices, but so do most of the mega-corporations out there these days. I shop there out of necessity, as do lots of folks I know. They do have the lowest prices overall, and when you bring home $12.00 an hour, you have little choice of where you shop. It’s pretty much yard sales, thrift stores, or Walmart.

  2. OTOH, the lack of choices of other places to shop often may just have to do with the death of small downtown businesses (as is the case in the town we lived in 1975-87) because of Walmart’s crushing footprint on family businesses in new territory when they move in and take over.

    IF there ARE choices, there might be better ones locally to get what you need, especially when the pennies saved are more than offset by the 50 mile round trip from Floyd to Christiansburg. Somehow, this isn’t figured into the equation of far too many. $4 gas is changing that.

    I see far too many people lured to lowest prices all the time OBLIVIOUS to the costs of that $3 cotton tee-shirt.

    Obviously, everybody that shops at walmart isn’t a republican or evil or stupid. The poll, however, points to some interesting correlations.

  3. I do actually try to support small, local businesses whenever I can and will even pay a bit more to do so. However, too often the local shops are far more expensive and don’t have what we need. Additionally, when we do pay $20.00 at the local business instead of $3.00 for that shirt, what do we really know about the human costs of the $20.00 shirt? What do we know of its origin and history? The maligning of Walmart is certainly not without basis, but they are certainly not the only big corporation out there with unethical business practices. It would be wonderful if I could always afford to weigh the human costs against the cost to my wallet, but, again, realistically, when you make $12.00 an hour, the cost to your wallet is a real and practical consideration. Having high ideals is a laudable thing (and I like to think I have them), but it don’t pay the rent. And, by the way, in my comment above, I never meant to imply that all Republicans have reptilian minds. In fact, almost all of my extended family are ardent Republicans and they are fine people, if a bit misguided and unenlightened. 🙂 Also, if my comment above seems chiding, I’ve been reading your fine blog long enough to know your heart is in the right place, Fred. I just wanted to present a point of view from the blue-collar side.

  4. Wow, do I admire Beth! What a calm, clear-eyed thinker and communicator. I wish she was going in to politics. The country sure could benefit from someone so steady. I am a staunch Democrat, and I get way too emotional and irrational when politics is the subject these days.

  5. Ron, everything we say or do is political, at some level. Eating at the Blue Ridge Restaurant is political, as is shopping at the Harvest Moon, buying from Wills Ridge Supply or shopping at WalMart.

    Beth, I would highly recommend the works of Wendell Berry. I don’t know if the Jesse Peterman library has them, but if not, they should be obtainable through inter-library loan.

    All of us need to start seriously thinking about the implications of our actions, at all levels, if we want our children and grandchildren to have a viable place to live. It is no longer acceptable to “follow the crowd”, whether that crowd is on talk radio, Fox TV, the New York Times, Huffington Post, or Daily Kos. We can no longer afford to fall in love with Obama or McCain and hope that either is the answer to our prayers. We need to take responsibility for our actions and stop pointing the finger at others, however we label them, as the source of our difficulties. As my father used to love to say, “When you point your finger, never forget that there are three fingers pointing back at you.”

  6. Kathy: Wow…thank you. I must confess, though–I may be level-headed in my writing, but I’ve been known to deliver a red-faced diatribe or two. And the sight of certain people…say Newt Gingrich or Karl Rove… makes me think the most un-Christian thoughts.

    Jeff: Thank you for the Wendell Berry recommendation. I am familiar with his writing and, in fact, my family and I seek to live the sustainable lifestyle he advocates. We recycle–not only in the usual separate-your-trash way–but in almost everything we use. Most of our clothes, our furniture, and other household goods are second-hand. My husband is a carpenter and has managed to build almost all of our home projects with discarded wood and discarded electrical parts, plumbing parts, etc. We have our own garden and numerous fruit trees, as well as grapes, so we do eat “local” food (we eat very little meat). In fact, I just finished making a nice batch of grape juice from the grapes on our own arbor. I expect we have saved many, many tons from being dumped at the landfill. The truth is– I’m sure I believe in many of the same ideals as Fred (and you). I simply wanted to make the point that not all of us can afford to eat organic, free-range chicken meat or wear $30.00 “sweatshop-free” organic tee-shirts. But we do the best we can. Perhaps I should lay it out in black and white: we gross $480 a week. When health insurance, taxes, etc. are taken out, we take home about $250 a week to support the four of us. That’s about a thousand a month. Yes, I do shop at Walmart and yes, I do think about how my choices will impact my children’s future. But I have to feed and clothe and shelter those children NOW.

  7. I, too, am sad to see your site go political.

    I stay informed, but came here to escape.

    While you are more than entitled to do what you want and say what you want on your site — I don’t have to be a part of it.

    Thanks for the memories…

  8. I think it’s too early to pay attention to the polls anyway. There is just one after another. I do think it’s going to be a rocky road to the election and anything can happen.

  9. I don’t think it’s “sad” to see this site raise occasional political and environmental issues. There’s no doubt that the natural, pastoral and Thoreau-like qualities of this blog will continue and pervade, based on the obvious proclivities of the author. But it’s sometimes refreshing and invigorating to undertake a few vital issues of the day. And, I’m reminded of the old quote ” All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to remain silent”

  10. Look at all the comments he got though. If Fred wants to generate wen site traffic, clearly he should write about politics more often 🙂

  11. I was just thinking that the death of small-town business was simply their uncompetitiveness. Consumers decided their fate with demand, Walmart just provided the supply.

    And those “sweatshop” stories are interesting as someone may feel very lucky to earn $10 a day when half of the world earns less than $2 a day. The alternative to work could be death or prostitution, etc., so it may be difficult to grasp the reality of this world.

    Regarding struggling families, I’m reminded of the crass and loud-mouthed Sam Kinnison who argued that all of the starving people in Africa could be saved if they just picked everyone up in the desert and moved them to where the food was. Seriously, I’m not smart enought to make a good living in a rural area, so I have to work where the money is while I can with hopes of returning to my ideal America later in life. Maybe some need to move into the area or industry where the money is? Sure as hell beats receiving handouts from a liberal government that robs its citizens in exchange for votes that eventually kill the golden goose.

  12. Jim: Perhaps I’m misreading you, but in case I’m not—my family does not receive government handouts. Though I would do it if I had to–to feed my children. (Because I don’t mind my tax dollars going to feed children.) And when I spoke of “sweatshop free” tee shirts, I was not speaking lightly of sweatshops–I was merely noting the fact that those who tout their organic, sweatshop free stuff always charge such ridiculous prices that people like me couldn’t begin to imagine buying there. And in case I didn’t make myself clear–we buy most of our stuff second-hand anyway. My point was that so many people seem more concerned about the shame of people supporting Walmart than about why so many hard-working American citizens feel they have no choice. Could you support your family on $250 a week and still buy only things that you knew people were paid a living wage for making? Do you know the history of every single thing and every service you buy? And as far as living in the city, we can’t afford to live in the city. Things are too expensive there. That’s why we live eleven miles from the city–things are much cheaper out here. Additionally, there are lots of people who would be glad to move to an area where there are more jobs, but they simply can’t afford to move. And, by the way, where are those good-paying jobs for blue-collar people? The area we live in has one of the lowest unemployment figures around, but what those statistics don’t reveal is that so many of those jobs are extremely low paying. In fact, we are pretty lucky to get $12.00 an hour.