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Race Doesn't Matter Until it Matters

Personally, I don't care about Barack Obama's race at all. Professionally, as a blogger interested in U.S. politics, the U.S. voter demographic percentage breakdowns do matter because that's my job, to analyze and write about politics and election potential in the U.S.elections.

Obama operatives -- those Obama enthusiasts I refer to as 'Obamatrons' in deference to their animatronic, push-button responses to hot button issues -- are all over the internet these days chanting "Race Doesn't Matter!," and I agree that his race doesn't matter to me personally nor to a majority of Americans as well. Let's pause and celebrate that fact for a moment...

Or should I start calling him Barry Obama instead of Barack? I've seen signs that a viral campaign was launched over the last few days to rebrand Barack as "Barry Obama." Obama called himself "Barry" back in high school. I would guess, based on my memory of the late '70's, that he did so because Barry sounded less ethnic than "Barack."

But race doesn't matter...Until it Matters. And that's why looking at the racial breakdown of the South Carolina tally is valid and relevant... to see if "it matters".

Barack received 80% of the black vote, and blacks comprised about 53% of the electorate in South Carolina. So the African-Americans who voted for Obama total 42.4% of the total population (80% of 53% = 42.4%)

Barack received a grand total final tally of 55% so, in addition to the black South Carolinian Obama voters who made up 42.4% of the electorate on Saturday, an additional 24% of white voters in the state voted for Barack as well.

White voters comprised 45% of the voting electorate, and Barack received 24% of the white vote, which equals 10.8% of the total population. The exit polls showed no support from the small South Carolina Hispanic and other non-white, non-black demographic groups, which would lower the 24% further, but let's go forward and analyze what we've learned leaving Obama's non-black percentage at a generous 24%.

If you apply this performance to other states in order to analyze Barack's Barry's chances in the remaining primary states, it's bad news for Obamatrons everywhere.

Barack's Barry's performance is not that great -- in fact its pretty dismal if you figure that Barack Barry will go on to get 80% of the black vote but less than 24% of the non-black vote in states like California, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas... he'll lose big time.

If he maintains the same low performance among hispanics it will be devastating for Obama in the Southwest and Pacific region.

Obama supporters will be quick to suggest that his support among non-blacks in South Carolina is atypical, ie. lower than Iowa , but to suggest that is to suggest the South Carolina white voters skewed against Obama, and that puts a mean crimp in the electability of Senator Obama - the notion that white voters may skew against him in the South.

Like I said, Race doesn't Matter Until it Matters.

Florida will provide some confirmation to this analysis, and we will also see less black support in Florida for Obama, much lower than 80% in my estimation.

While Iowa showed us that a few weeks ago non-white voters did get behind Obama in significant numbers, Saturdays results several weeks later show us that's no longer the case. There's been a shift, and Obama pulled a much smaller percentage of the non-black votes this weekend than he did in the previous three states.

Figuring out why? and how to fix it is the million-dollar question for the Obamatrons, but don't expect them, or Barack, to offer any answers. I'm sure we're in for more bumper-sticker sized platitudes and falling-star wishes and hopes instead of honest and direct answers, and that may be the biggest obstacle for Obama to overcome.


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Rating: 3/5 (6 votes cast)


Comments (6)

Steve Crickmore:

A good analysis Lee..If it was a straight poll preference, Clinton would probably win but I think the key new variable in the South Carolina primary was the unexpected large turnout vote. Obama will bring out the vote for him in the primaries and November. Clinton voters are much more reluctant and less passionate unlike the Obama voters or anti- Hillary voters...The Bradley effect, but that was in 1982, might counter some of this but apparently Obama is still suffering from being relatively unknown in states like California. The longer the campaign goes on, the more widely his natural multi-cultural appeal becomes known (even to Latinos, most of whom are mixed race like Obama), the greater his chances. Even, if the demographics don't seem so favourable, if he can survive February 5th, he should still be in good shape.

civil behavior:


It wouldn't matter so much except that in a state like SC the population has a larger percentage of its population African American
(black) than Iowa or NH or Nevada. Thus part of the reasoning.

BUT what is more revealing is that the man named Obama brought out more votes on the Democratic side of the ticket than EVER. A bit over 500K. More than McCain and Huckabee combined.

What is also revealing is that Barack received as many votes in this SC primary as were cast for all the candidates in the 2004 election. (295K)

For inspiring that kind of voting turnout alone he should be receiving kudos. These are people who have felt very left behind in years past. They are finally feeling a part of the system.

Isn't that what we as progressives want Lee? If you are a true progressive then your answer is yes and you should be applauding if not supporting Barack in bringing in the disaffected voter from the cold.

It's time to walk the talk.

Lee Ward:

After 8 years of Republican reign of terror, Democrats will turn out to support their candidates.

But to praise the African-American voters that turned out for him, and ignore the white voters who chose not to support him, kinda messes with the whole kumbaya of this moment, no?

mantis:

If you apply this performance to other states in order to analyze Barack's Barry's chances in the remaining primary states, it's bad news for Obamatrons everywhere.

South Carolina is not a model of anything except South Carolina. The state is very politically polarized along racial lines, and has been for quite some time in a way that is not shared by most other southern states (let alone the rest of the country). To "apply this performance" to other states is to misunderstand the states your talking about.

While Iowa showed us that a few weeks ago non-white voters did get behind Obama in significant numbers, Saturdays results several weeks later show us that's no longer the case.

You actually think Iowa and South Carolina can be compared? Have you ever been to either of those states?

Florida will provide some confirmation to this analysis, and we will also see less black support in Florida for Obama, much lower than 80% in my estimation.

Florida will provide no such thing. First, Florida is not South Carolina. The dynamic is different, and I'll bet Obama gets a significantly larger percentage of the white vote there than in SC. Plus, the candidates haven't even set foot in that state in months (well, except for Clinton, that is). Name recognition goes a long way when there's no campaigning going on.

Lee Ward:

Since Obama spent 8 months on the ground in Iowa massaging the voters his performance there is not likely to be repeated elsewhere, that's true.

And Florida will show us what Obama can do when he faces a primary in a state where he hasn't had 8 months, and where there isn't a huge bloc of black voters.

His percentage of the black vote in Florida will be as telling and his percentage of the white vote.

John Holt:

I am not sure what any of this means at the moment but there will be an anti Black, anti White, Anti female vote in this election. I also might add there will be an anti Muslim vote as well. Not that Barrack is a Muslim but his name alone will attract an anti vote of some sorts. People who will vote against people for these reasons are in the shadows so we have no idea how many of them who are out there and will vote. Probably more than we think. We do know there is a strong anti Hillary contingent as she is one you love or you hate.

If Blacks have voted mostly for Obama and Women have voted overwhelmingly for Hillary what does that tell us? Probably not even PC to discuss such an answer but it is a question that should be answered.

Obama really through a monkey wrench into Hillary's plans when he entered the race. She could have waltzed through the primary without him. Now he has taken her solid Black vote base almost completely and attracted some young white voters. She has more than a fight on her hands but the Clinton machine is still alive and well.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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