McCain would not have been competitive in the presidential campaign without their vote. The flip side is that Obama would not have been competitive if African-American voters had not turned his election into a virtual holy crusade and gave him a record percentage and record number of their vote. Hispanic, Asian, young voters, and a significant percentage of independents, and progressives also gave him overwhelming support.
It's true that blue collar white voters have shrunk from more than half of the nation's voters in the past decade to less than forty percent in national elections. This hardly means that the GOP's white vote strategy is doomed to fail. Elections are usually won by candidates with a solid and impassioned core of bloc voters. White males, particularly older white males, vote consistently and faithfully. And they vote in a far greater percentage than Hispanics and blacks have in most elections.
Blue collar white male voters can be easily aroused to vote on the emotional wedge issues; abortion, family values, anti-gay marriage and rights, and tax cuts. GOP presidents and aspiring presidents, Nixon, Reagan, Bush Sr. and W. Bush, and McCain and legions of GOP governors, senators and congresspersons banked on these voters for victory and to seize and maintain regional and national political dominance. It didn't work for the GOP in 2008 only because of Bush.
His mangle of the war and the economy, and the terrible stench of GOP corruption and sex scandals, was too much even for legions of traditional GOP voters to stomach. Their vote for Obama or more likely their decision not to vote at all was more a personal and visceral reaction to their horror of the mess Bush and the GOP made of things. The GOP may well be an insular party of Deep South and narrow Heartland, rural and, non-college educated blue collar whites. But this isn't a demographic to sneer at. Their numbers are still huge.
The recent straw poll among religious conservatives which put former Arkansas Deep South, religious fundamentalist governor Mike Huckabee at the top of their vote heap as their presidential pick in 2012 should not be laughed off or ridiculed. Huckabee's base will be the same conservative white voters who turned out in record numbers to put Bush over the top twice in 2000 and 2004. They haven't gone away. And race always lurks just underneath the surface to add an ugly but potent color to their vote and national politics.