Tomorrow’s primaries may present an opportunity to look at the preference of white men for Obama over Clinton in some contests. While far from consistent in primaries, it’s been an important factor in their support profiles: Where white men favor Obama, he's far likelier to win.
Mason Dixon’s polling has Obama winning 41 percent of whites in Virginia and 40 percent in Maryland; that’s essential to his overall lead in these two states, since in neither of them are African-Americans predicted to have a large enough share to carry Obama themselves (as in Louisiana on Saturday, and in some previous Southern states). That suggests Obama could win white men on Tuesday, as he has in seven of the 23 previous states for which we have data. (Clinton's won them in 11, and they've tied in five.)
In some states to date where Clinton has not won white men – California and Arizona – there’ve been enough Hispanics to make the difference for her. In some others (New Hampshire, Massachusetts) there have been few blacks, and enough white women to outweigh white men. But in states with significant but not vast numbers of black voters, and few Hispanics, white men are critical. Per the table below, Clinton’s won the primary in eight of the 11 states where she won white men, a 73 percent success rate; but in only four of the 12 where she didn’t win them, 33 percent.
When we look at issue preferences, we find white men generally less attuned to Clinton across a range of parameters. In aggregate data, white men have been 17 points less apt than white women to say Clinton would be the best commander-in-chief; 17 points less apt to call "experience" the most important attribute (it's a strong Clinton quality), 17 points less apt to say Clinton would do the most to unite the country and 14 percent less apt to call health care their top issue (also strong for Clinton).
Naturally, affinity voting plays a major role. White women are twice as apt as white men to call the sex of the candidate important in their vote, 35 percent to 17 percent. And white women who call the candidate's sex important have favored Clinton over Obama by a huge 78-17 percent margin; white men who call it important also have favored Clinton, but by a much closer margin, 54-35 percent.
Addendum: With thanks to Ron Brownstein of the National Journal, there’s a further point of differentiation here – the additional role of socioeconomic status. Education provides the clearest view: Combining all primaries to date, white men who’ve attended college have gone to Obama over Clinton by 51-38 percent, while white men without a degree have gone the other way – 52-31 percent for Clinton; he does 20 points better, she 14 points worse, among college educated white men vs. non-graduates. There’s a similar division among white women, albeit a little less pronounced – among those with college degrees, Obama is +14 points, Clinton -10, compared with those who haven’t earned a degree. There’s less of an education gap among nonwhites.
Table's below. One note – apart from Iowa and Nevada we have no data for caucuses; just primaries. Caucuses, with their very low turnout, can be something of a different animal.
Vote preference among white men Clinton Obama Edwards WinnerClinton:Arkansas 71% 24 ClintonAlabama 70 27 Obama New Jersey 58 39 ClintonTennessee 58 32 ClintonOklahoma 55 32 ClintonMissouri 55 41 NAMichigan 54 38* ClintonNew York 52 43 ClintonLouisiana 51 31 ObamaFlorida 45 27 25 ClintonNevada 46 40 10 ClintonTied:Mass. 48 49 ClintonDelaware 47 47 ObamaArizona 46 45 ClintonGeorgia 46 48 ObamaS.C. 28 27 45 ObamaObama:Utah 29 64 ObamaIllinois 37 59 ObamaN.M. 38 59 NAConn. 40 57 ObamaCalif. 35 55 ClintonN.H. 30 38 20 ClintonIowa 23 33 25 Obama *uncommitted