A Black and White Issue

I suspect this post will be unpopular, but…  Let me throw some facts and figures at you: In Ohio, exit polls show that whites made up 76% of the people who voted in the Democratic primary.  In Pennsylvania, whites made up 80% of the vote.  And in general, whites make up 82% of the United States’ population; in 2004, exit polls show that whites voted almost to their demographic force, making up 77% of the electorate. 

Digest those numbers for a minute — we start to see why swing states are so important now.  

Unlike states with a heavily black demographic, or states that are nearly all white, swing states are large in land mass and population size, and their populations reflect the demographics of America at large.  That’s why it’s so troubling when a candidate can’t win them. 

What’s worse is the way that Obama has been losing them: In Ohio, he didn’t receive a plurality of the votes in any rural county.  None. Looking at the county map of Pennsylvania, Obama didn’t fare much better in rural counties there, either.  Obama gets the metropolitan areas — where the biggest mix of the population resides — but when it comes to the white, rural areas of swing states, Obama hasn’t gained any ground.

In short, white people aren’t voting for the guy.  

This is a problem.  I’ll be very blunt here — and this is tough because I don’t want to say it — but with Obama’s performance in Pennsylvania, he hasn’t proven to me that he can win.  To me, Ohio is a huge warning flag but I wanted to see how he did in Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, he’s fallen flat on his face again.  

Now I can’t explain how Hillary does it (nor do I think that many of the rural counties she’s winning right now would go her way in November); perhaps it is the color of her skin…  But she’s trouncing Obama in the rural areas.  In 2000 and 2004, the Democrats fielded candidates that only won in the metropolitan areas of the country.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that they lost when it counted.  (Yeah yeah, 2000 was stolen, I know, but it was still razor close.)  For a candidate to have a chance they must take away some of the rural vote that’s been so red lately.  Bill Clinton took some of this vote, but he was aided greatly by Ross Perot who helped split the right’s vote in many places.  We don’t have a third party candidate from the right to spoil the vote this year — a candidate has to figure out how to win these rural votes in swing states themselves if they are to win the general election.  Until the Obama campaign figures out how to get white people to vote for him, he’s got some serious problems. 

6 Responses to “A Black and White Issue”

  1. Your analysis is bogus says:

    Except the elected officials who are superdelegates from red states are overwhelmingly backing Obama.

  2. Fargus says:

    Concern troll much?

    Seriously, you and all the commentators who insist that the Democratic primary results necessarily translate to general election performance indicators need to pull your heads out of your collective asses.

  3. Now, now, be nice.

    Tas isn’t exactly some raving Clinton supporter. He’s expressing what may seem to be legitimate concerns.

    Indeed, to think that racism won’t play a factor in the General Election would be naive. But I do agree that you can’t necessarily trust what happens in the primaries to carry on into the General Election, that’s the biggest factor here. It is a matter of comparisons.

    Just as I think it’s silly to think that those Clinton supporters really will vote McCain in the fall when Obama is nominated.

    Indeed, even in the middle of the primary, where Obama is facing harsh resistence from Clinton, he’s still managing to do pretty well against John McCain; and let’s not forget that John McCain is focusing almost all of his attacks at Obama.

    The thing is, yes, race is going to be an issue, but it’s not going to be the only issue. We’re going to outright lose some battles, and there are going to be battles that we can win. Especially with Obama’s impressive grass roots abilities.

    I personally think that once the nomination is settled, and reconciliation takes place, and we get to see Obama vs. McCain go toe to toe, Obama’s going to do particularly well.

    But here’s the flip side to the deal that I’ve been hammering on topic after topic lately. We’ve got to get out of the mind set of being afraid to lose. We lose MORE when we shy away from topics and issues, and in this case racial divisions.

    Obama might get beat in November, and it may be from racist white folks who don’t want to see a black president. But do we reward them for their ignorance? Do we placate them? No, I don’ think so. I think you tell them, look, we think the best person for the job is black, and every time that is the case, we’re going to continue to put them up instead of giving you cookie cutter white christian males time and again.

    All you point out, tas, is not that it’s a foregone conclusion, but that we’ve got ourselves a challenge coming this way this fall. We would have a challenge if Hillary won the nomination this fall.

    Either way, I’m game.

  4. tas says:

    On the red state primaries (and superdelegates from red states) that Obama has won: Those red states do not represent America the way that states like Ohio and Pennsylvania do. Their populations are small, their demographics are not similar to what we see in America at large, and these states usually lean one way or the other in an election anyways. Vermont is 99% white, voted for Obama, and would vote for any Democrat in a general election anyways. These are not the states I was talking about.

    Fargus: On me being a “concern troll”, I’ll reply to that with all the dignity you deserve: Fuck you. And if you think that’s uncalled for, maybe you shouldn’t have started your conversation with an insult. If you want to argue with me on points, fine, but if your style of debating is insulting your opponent right out of the gate then I’m not going to bother with you.

    Kyle: I’m not saying that Obama should be held back because I’m afraid to lose, therefore Clinton should be nominated. (I believe I mentioned in this posst how I don’t think Clinton will win the rural vote in the general election; the only way her husband won it was because of Perot’s candidacy.) But what really scares me about Obama is that, in the swing state primaries, he’s not winning any of these counties. And when you look at the voting results for these rural counties, Clinton always wins them by 20-25 points. If all of these rural sectors are breaking so far away from Obama in the primaries, I think this is a huge problem that needs to be addressed before November (preferably, ASAP). I knew I was going to take some shit making this post because nobody wants to address the issue, but the time to not be blunt is over.

    If Obama could have won some of this swing state rural vote, this nomination process would have ended last night. So in my view, the problem is already too big to ignore.

  5. Fargus says:

    TAS – Apologies. Tensions were running high, and I was frustrated at a whole bunch of people making your argument. You’re the one that I happened to comment on, but my wording was unfortunate, and that’s my bad.

    I do think, however, that your logic is very flawed. The results from a Democratic primary don’t necessarily have anything to do with what the results will be in a general election. You’ve got to remember that last night’s sample included only voters in Pennsylvania who were registered Democrats. I’ve got to imagine that no matter what the numbers say right now, there is a large percentage of Clinton voters who would vote for Obama in the general election. Remember: these are people who went out of their way several weeks in advance to register as Democrats. I don’t think for a second that they’re completely representative of the population of the state at large. Had the primary been an open or semi-open affair, things may have been different.

    At the very least, I’ll need to see some more evidence before I’ll start buying the idea that performance of any candidate in a closed, one-party primary, is any reliable indicator of performance in a general election. If you’ve got it, I’m all ears/eyes.

  6. tas says:

    Fargus, apologize accepted. And I apologize for the f-bomb.

    I’m not so sure that a lot of Hillary’s voters in the rural counties will turn Obama’s way come the general election. I’d be more put at ease if Obama won some of these counties; or even if he were making it close by getting, say, 45% of the vote in a lot of these places, but he isn’t. Hillary is crushing him in the rural counties, as well as counties that include the working class small cities, always getting at least 60% of the vote. To me, this shows a disconnect between Obama and the white, non-metropolitan voters… Be they poor, undereducated, working class, blue collar, angry white males, or whatever other political title can be applied. Part of Obama’s appeal is that he can fetch votes from moderates and independents — well, a lot of those people are in the rural counties and he’s failing to win them over.

    Like I said, I would be more put at ease of Obama could do well in some of these counties, but he hasn’t. To me, this alludes to a problem that needs to be addressed now.

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