Analysis: The Myth of the 'NASCAR Dads'

ByABC News
February 15, 2004, 9:54 AM

Feb. 15 -- The president's visit to Daytona this weekend raises inevitable discussions of the latest alleged swing voters, "NASCAR dads." We say: Throttle back.

Soccer moms, campus kids, "freestyle evangelicals," "office-park dads," "security moms" they crop up every election like mushrooms behind the barn (and they thrive in the same kind of medium). We call them the "group du jour" the crucial swing voter group that's said to hold the key to the next election. In fact, as Ellen Goodman once put it, they usually can't swing anything more than a headline.

Now it's NASCAR dads. Who are they? Depends whom you ask. According to ABCNEWS' Political Unit, they're "auto racing fan Democrats, usually anti-gun control, and tend to live in more rural areas of the country."

Professorial pundit Larry Sabato calls them "middle- to lower middle-class males who are family men, live in rural areas, used to vote heavily Democratic but now usually vote Republican."

To the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, they're "hard-working, average tax-paying Americans that are raising their families and putting their kids through school. They are patriotic. They own guns. They hunt, and they go shooting and they love the Second Amendment."

A CBS analysis specifies Southern and Midwestern suburban and rural white men. (Amusingly, only 41 percent of the CBS NASCAR dads said they were fans of NASCAR.)

And the Wall Street Journal, citing the conjurer of this group, Democratic pollster Celinda Lake, says they're "blue-collar fathers between 35 and 55 culturally conservative but very populist."

Swing Voters?

When we run data from our recent polls we find that married, middle- and lower-income white men account for a single-digit share of the national population, and support President Bush in precisely the same proportion as all white men. (Make it rural white men, and it goes down to low single digits.) And white men, particularly Southern white men, are a solidly Republican group, highly unlikely to swing anywhere, anyhow.