Sunday, November 09, 2008

The race factor still a factor...

We heard so much about race during this presidential election to the point of it being suggested that if you did not vote for Barack Obama, you had to be racist...It's clear though that race was a factor, considering that Obama spent more money and had better campaign assets in a huge number of states compared to John Kerry and in many states he did not do as well as John Kerry did or only did marginally better. Two articles that have been recently published focusing on the race factor, Race didn't decide the election which points out race was factor but not a large enough one to create an Obama loss:

But did Obama lose votes because of his race? There is evidence that he did. It comes from comparing how Obama did this year with how John Kerry did in 2004.

Leaving race aside, one can argue that Obama should have done better this year than Kerry did in 2004. He was a better campaigner; he had more money and a more extensive campaign; his opponent was not as popular among voters as George W. Bush had been in 2004; and he could place the blame for the growing economic crisis on his opponent's party. But despite that, there were states and counties where Obama did much worse than Kerry among white voters. In Alabama, for instance, Kerry won 19% of white voters in 2004; in 2008, Obama got only 10%. In Mississippi, Kerry won 18% of white males; Obama won a measly 9%.

Obama did noticeably worse than Kerry in counties in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. These counties are predominantly white, rural or small town, and downscale. In Tennessee's Benton County, which is west of Nashville, Kerry got 54% of the vote in 2004, but Obama netted only 41% this year. Benton is more than 95% white, and almost 20% of the citizens fall below the poverty line. In western Pennsylvania, Obama lost two white, small-town counties -- Fayette and Beaver -- that Kerry won in 2004.

Then a bit of a different take, still on the issue of race, He leapt the tallest barrier. What does it mean for black America? This article raises some of the discussion points that has happened locally in our community led by some of the smaller newspapers that are written primarily for a black audience. Yes, I know I'm not black, but I think it's important to try to read a variety of viewpoints. Some of the points I'm referring to:
Are African Americans ready to accept all this and respond positively? Are they ready for a truly post-racial America?

The answer isn't clear. Just a few days after Obama's stunning win, black America is already divided over what his election means, arguing about what it should expect from a "black president" -- and about whether his first obligation is to black America or to all America. It's an argument that reflects the continuing cleft within the community, between those who hew to the race-based politics advanced chiefly by the black power movement of the 1970s and '80s and the so-called millennial or race-neutral generation, which appreciates but isn't imprisoned by African American history.

Personally, I think those expecting President Obama to hold an obligation to black America first, are going to be sadly disappointed. Despite the focus on race in this campaign as many have pointed out, one of the truly unfortunate aspects of the race in the presidential election was the unrealistic expectations of those both lauding Obama's race and fearing it. Obama was elected not because he was black but because he was not a Republican...


Robin said...

To me, his skin color didn't make any difference to me. But maybe I just think differently than a lot of people do.

He won because he is a better salesperson than John McCain was.

Barga said...

As i showed in my blog earlier this week, the race barrier has not been broken. Until race is not an issue (your point), the race barrier can not be touched

Obama won due to a smaller GOP turnout, not necessarily anything else