Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Race Card, pt. 4,396

Since the Pennsylvania primary a couple of days ago, there has been renewed discussion about the role of race in the campaign and in the upcoming general election.

• Roger Simon, over at, writes that GOP political operatives believe race (or is it racism) is worth a solid 15 points to the Republicans in this Fall's general election. He writes, "The man I was talking to is not a racist; he was just stating what he believes to be a fact: There is a percentage of the American electorate who will simply not vote for a black person no matter what his qualities or qualifications." Hey, I give the GOP guy credit for stating the obvious publicly.

• RJ Eskow says race is a central factor in the Democratic primary results. At the tail end of the essay, he hits at the broader meaning of this for the Democrats:
She's inflicted some serious wounds on Obama, but the way she's done it [by going negative and "blackenizing" Obama] has made it all but impossible for superdelegates to accept her as an alternative. His supporters are too angry over her tactics to accept her on the basis of electability alone. Obama emerges from Pennsylvania damaged, but choosing Hillary instead would shatter the part
Sad, but I suspect mostly true...

• And then there is this:
According to exit polls: One in five white voters said race was a factor, and three in five white voters chose Clinton.

"A lot of voters in a lot of these states have never voted for an African-American candidate before," [Democratic opperative Tad] Devine says. "This is simply a new experience for them, and many of them are going to have to confront this in the course of the campaign. I think right now, Hillary Clinton for them is sort of either a way station, you know, toward Obama or a signal that they're not quite ready to make that step. I don't think anybody knows the answer to that yet."

• The NYTimes thinks we need to take the above with a grain of salt, arguing there is little evidence that some of the constituencies that have been going to Hillary in the primary - white working class, older women, etc. - will not move toward Obama in the Fall. According to their analysis, exit polls show he has lots of potential in these areas. Here is the crux of their take:
Yet for all of her primary night celebrations in the populous states, exit polling and independent political analysts offer evidence that Mr. Obama could do just as well as Mrs. Clinton among blocs of voters with whom he now runs behind. Obama advisers say he also appears well-positioned to win swing states and believe he would have a strong shot at winning traditional Republican states like Virginia.

According to surveys of Pennsylvania voters leaving the polls on Tuesday, Mr. Obama would draw majorities of support from lower-income voters and less-educated ones — just as Mrs. Clinton would against Mr. McCain, even though those voters have favored her over Mr. Obama in the primaries.

And national polls suggest Mr. Obama would also do slightly better among groups that have gravitated to Republican in the past, like men, the more affluent and independents, while she would do slightly better among women.

• Doug Wilder, the nation's first black governor, has encouragement and a warning for Obama:
The encouragement is that Obama is approaching the race issue the right way, and the nation is ready to elect a black president. The warning is that it may not be as ready as polls suggest.

``Let's not kid ourselves again, the issue of race will not disappear; but I don't think it will predominate,'' the former Virginia governor said in an interview at his office in Richmond, where he is now mayor. At the same time, he said, even if Obama is the nominee and heads into the fall with an apparent lead, the election ``will be closer than any polls will suggest.''

• Michael Dawson, over at The Root, writes that black voters are not going to be happy campers if Obama is denied the nomination.

• Martin Kilson, over at Black Commentator, has a deeper analysis of race and class in the election.

• One commentator over at The Times of London doesn't think the U.S. is ready to elect a black president.

What do you think?

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