The reason the story is so popular is almost certainly connected to the national, established media's continuing fetish for socially conservative whites s the dominant archetype for swing voters in America. This obsession has a long history, with an almost uninterrupted lineage dating from the silent majority, through the southern strategy, Reagan Democrats, soccer Moms, Bubbas, and on to "values voters" in our own decade. It is an obsession that came out frequently in this campaign in the hundreds of stories about Obama's supposed problems with socially conservative white Democrats, and how those problems posed a barrier to winning the Presidency. If you can't win the socially conservative white vote, you supposedly can't win national elections. Not-Joe the Not-Plumber is just the latest instance of this type of story, which grants an absurd amount of power to socially conservative whites in our national political discourse.
A couple hours ago, Kos posted a list of victories Democrats could score this year that would collectively "break the spirits" of Republicans. One bit that I would like to add to the list is for Obama to lose whites, and get really crushed among non-college educated whites, and yet still win the election handily. This is entirely possible, as Democrats lost white voters in 2006 and yet still cruised to a big victory in the national vote for the U.S. House. I can't wait for the day when pundits realize it is possible to win national elections without a majority, or really even coming close to a majority, among socially conservative white voters. Hopefully, it will come this year, and we can move one step closer to removing a major anchor that has dragged American politics and media rightward for three or four decades now.