Sunday, May 4, 2008

The truth about Barack Obama and white voters

In a post on Saturday, Jack and Jill Politics blogger, Rikyrah, says that thinking voters need to shine a light on the racially biased way the media is framing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton's popularity among black and white voters respectively.

Rikyrah led me to an excellent post by Al Giordano at The Field.

Giordano says of the media:
They’ve swallowed the Clinton racially-obsessed spin, hook, line and sinker. Some, because they are gullible, haven’t an original idea in their little pea brains, and follow the pack of what everybody else is talking about. Others, because they like to toss around knowing falsehoods. Nary a superdelegate can go on Fox News without being berated by an anchorperson screeching (this is pretty close to an exact quote): “But your duty as a superdelegate is to select the most electable and that’s Hillary Clinton!” That these anchorpersons are Republican partisans openly cheering for Senator Clinton is our first clue of the game afoot. One of the major successes of Rush
Limbaugh’s Operation Chaos is that it has got all the right-wing pundits and reporters marching lockstep behind the effort to give Clinton enough oxygen to keep slashing away at Senator Obama, who remains the prohibitive likely Democratic nominee.

Wait. The numbers show that the cynical effort to turn the 2008 campaign into a race riot has hurt the popularity of one candidate among an important demographic, and it’s not Barack Obama:

Giordano bases his post on an excellent article by columnist Charles Blow in the Saturday New York Times.
The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.

On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period). While a favorable opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a vote, this should still give the Clintons (and the superdelegates) pause. Electability cuts both ways.

If Hillary Clinton should defy the odds (and the current math) and secure the nomination, she would be hard-pressed to defeat John McCain without the enthusiastic support of black voters, stalwarts of the Democratic base.

Getting that support could now be tricky.

The media does not seem to recognize this, but white, working class voters are not the only important voting bloc for the Democratic Party. In fact, it is black voters who have been most loyal to the party and have, in great part, delivered Democratic presidential wins in the last decades. It is African Americans who vote for Democrats by a percentage of 80-90 percent. White, working class voters can become Reagan Democrats, black voters rarely make the jump to a Republican candidate en masse. Can a Democratic candidate win without the black vote? Conventional wisdom says no. So, where is the hand wringing over Hillary Clinton's dropping popularity among black voters? Is it that the media views black voters as less important than white ones?

Read Al Giordano's post at The Field.

Read Charles Blow's column, which includes an excellent graph, in The New York Times.


Evan Carden said...

Speaking only for myself, I think this is an overblown problem. Given the choice between Senator Mccain and ANY of the original or current Democratic cantidates for president, I choose the Democrat every day of the week and I'll absolutely be going to the polls and voting for a Democrat, whether it's Senator Clinton or Senator Obama.

Brother OMi said...

no black person in their right mind would vote for McCain (well maybe that 10% of that black electorate might as they did in 2004 for Bush).

if Clinton wins, which i doubt, black folks will still vote overwhelmingly democratic.

Tami said...

Evan and Brother Omi,

First, I do agree that a lot of who's got the white vote, who's got the black vote discussion is media manufactured. I did a search for "Barack Obama" and "black vote" and it is funny that prior to South Carolina the complaint was that Clinton had connected with blacks in a way that Obama had not. Folks were wringing their hands over why Obama, the "not black enough" candidate, couldn't get the black vote. Now, the narrative has changed.

At the beginning of this campaign, I would have happily voted for any Dem candidate, too. We really had a great field to choose from. But I am extremely disappointed in the way Hillary Clinton has conducted her campaign, and not just because I think she is guilty of leveraging racial bias. It is; however, the stoking of prejudice that I find unforgivable. I simply cannot cast a vote for her.

It is the perceived race-baiting of the Clinton campaign that sent African Americans over to Obama's campaign. The black vote was Clinton's to lose, and she lost it through her poor behavior.

If Hillary Clinton is the candidate, I will consider a progressive, third-party candidate. There are other voters--black and white--who feel the same. Will we all come around in November? I fear that black voters may not--at least not in the way we have in the past. That Harold Ickes believes a candidate can do whatever and be assured of the black vote because we have nowhere else to go is offensive:

I understand that a third party cannot win in 2008 and I am as scared about a McCain presidency as any good liberal, but I do not respect the Hillary Clinton that I have come to know during this campaign. What she has done--the race-baiting, the Rovian politics, the identity politics, the lying--it's not okay, and to vote for her is to condone that.

MacDaddy said...

Like the Rev. Wright incident, it's overblown and media-manufactured by white male news producers, directors, anchors and pundits trying to justify their over-paid salaries and bloated egos. Meanwhile, John McCain's cozy relationship with a minister who openly hates the Catholic Church and strain the bush economy is causing on low and middle-income families goes largely unnoticed. It seems that the corporate, cable media is guiding the election more than the candidates.

Evan Carden said...

To vote for Senator Clinton is to vote for someone who has proven that she can take the Republicans on in a general election. It's to vote for the proven over the untried, the known over the unknown and a fighter over a talker. In general, I prefer talkers to fighters, but in this instance...I don't think that talking will convince pharmaceautical companies, or HMOs that national health care is a good idea. I don't think that his rhetoric will carry our enemies before it. He's been preaching to the choir so far and as with Reverend Wright, we've seen how well it works when you try talking to people outside your movement.

That was a low blow I just did...but, might I point out, I'm a sweetie pie compared with Rove and the rest of his little friends.

I think in the general election, we'll see the difference between Clintonian and Rovian tactics.

Note, I could be wrong about Senator Obama's rhetoric.

If as a presidential cantidate, he can get a ceasefire on the table in Nigeria, where the conflict has been going on for more than a decade...what he might accomplish as president bears thinking on.

Though, I do have to worry about what the Republicans would do with the rebel's statement that:

""The MEND command is seriously considering a temporary ceasefire appeal by Senator Barack Obama. Obama is someone we respect and hold in high esteem," the militant group said in an e-mailed statement."

I can't speak for you, or anyone else, obviously, but I'd hope that when the general election begins, when we're talking about Senator Mccain's radical preachers, conservative policies and dangerous, even crazy foreign policy, Democrat will see the difference between Senators Clinton and Mccain and even if they despise Senator Clinton, be willing to choose (in their mind) the lesser of two evils.

Brother OMi said...

again, I have to disagree with you Tami. folks are just mad. I am sure if Clinton would win, which would only happen if she invents a new form of mathematics or the dems continue to smoke the crack they enjoy smoking and the super delegates give it to her, people who vote democratic will vote for her.

right now, folks are mad. and like everything in this country, emotions only last a few weeks. Heck folks don't get emotional over 9/11 anymore. folks don't even get emotional about the Iraq war.


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