From Levine Breaking News:
POLITICAL BRIEFING BY TONY HORWITZ:
As the Democratic primaries revealed, Barack Obama is having a hard time winning the support of blue-collar voters. So here's a piece of strategic advice for the candidate: Lose the Nicorette. Light up instead.
Consider these statistics, culled from studies of smoking patterns. Americans who make between $24,000 and $36,000 a year smoke at twice the rate of those earning $90,000 or more. The same applies to Americans with a high-school education rather than a college degree. Rural Americans smoke more than city-dwellers.
As for race, there's a close correlation between states with high rates of white smokers and those where Mr. Obama polled worst in the primaries. Leading the pack of smoking states are Kentucky and West Virginia; industrial states like Ohio aren't far behind.
Bottom line: small-towners in the Rust Belt and Appalachia don't cling to guns and religion so much as they do cigarettes.