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.


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