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What if Obama Were White and McCain Black:

Randy Kennedy writes:

I anticipate that most black Americans will believe that an Obama defeat will have stemmed in substantial part from a prejudice that robbed 40 million Americans of the chance to become president on the day they were born black. They will of course understand that race wasn't the only significant variable — that party affiliation, ideological proclivities, strategic choices and dumb luck also mattered. But deep in their bones, they will believe — and probably rightly — that race was a key element, that had the racial shoe been on the other foot — had John McCain been black and Obama white — the result would have been different.

I'm inclined to agree that Obama starts out with an overall disadvantage because of his race, but I wonder what readers think of Kennedy's hypothetical. Let's say that the Democratic candidate was white, but had a bio similar to Obama's: grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, went to Ivy League schools, worked as a community organizer, then state legislator, then one-term Senator, all the while showing signs that, as co-blogger Jim Lindgren says, he has a very moderate personality, but is among the most left-wing candidates in personal ideology in modern history. And let's say the Republican candidate was black, but like McCain, was a former POW, a relatively moderate Republican, and one who had a history of tangling with the Republican Party establishment, gaining a reputation as a gadfly. Let's also assume that this Republican candidate had been a member of a mainstream African American church free of the radical ideology of Jeremiah Wright's church.

Do readers think it's correct to assume that in this hypothetical matchup, the Republican candidate's race would be a significant disadvantage? And would the Democratic candidate likely have been as successful a candidate against Hillary as Obama turned out to be?

Again, I'm not denying Kennedy's main point, that if Obama loses a close election, racism may well be a decisive factor. I'm just wondering whether there are some interesting nuances that could be discussed.

Norman Bates (mail):
And let's not forget that in this case 90% of African-American voters, showing their usual rational and principled voting patterns, would vote for the McCain candidate.
9.14.2008 12:03pm
cboldt (mail):
-- Do readers think it's correct to assume that in this hypothetical matchup, the Republican candidate's race would be a significant disadvantage? --
.
Only because a majority of American black people are inclined to vote for the Democrat, regardless. I think the emotional voters would be quite conflicted - vote on racial affiliation, or on political affiliation?
9.14.2008 12:04pm
barney the liberal purple dinosaur:
no black man who finished last in his class at annapolis would've been allowed near a fighter jet.
9.14.2008 12:06pm
JohnO (mail):
Well, if the races were reversed, I think the Republican likely would be running against Hillary Clinton.
9.14.2008 12:07pm
Anon21:
Well, it seems unlikely the situations could be reversed in any neat way. For one obvious starter, there are no black men with 20-year careers in the U.S. Senate under their belts. That's hardly the result of random chance.
9.14.2008 12:10pm
EricH (mail):
A black McCain - a sort of Colin Powell type figure - versus a white Obama - a sort of leftist Adlai Stevenson - would win in an absolute landslide.

Not even close.
9.14.2008 12:10pm
Pashley (mail):
Its a Democratic narrative; that race and gender are of overwhelming importance, that the country still has large numbers of voters who won't vote for a black (or woman) for President. If you are a Republican, and presumably a conservative, the narrative is more about personal responsibility and personal accomplishment, race and gender being incidental rather than primary.
9.14.2008 12:11pm
smitty1e:
Why is impossible that I dislike the policies of a particular candidate?
That may be what Kennedy means by "party affiliation" or "ideological proclivities", except that I'm not registered to any party. Furthermore, simple US- and world history seem to argue against the more socialized approaches to policy. Hold the ideology, please.
A Condi Rice or a Colin Powell would find substantial support in the electorate. Are they, like Clarence Thomas, too independent in their thinking to count?
I bitterly resent the efforts of some to mis-characterize my motives, as they cling to the hope that they can use guilt to alter my opinion.
Get stuffed.
9.14.2008 12:15pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
My first thought is the black McCain wouldn't get the Republican nomination. Although he might well get the VP nod.

My second thought is that if he had a more conciliatory personality, he might have some of the same appeal as Colin Powell before 9/11, in which case he'd actually stand a very good chance of being elected.

Norman Bates: I suggest you remember the results of the 2006 Maryland Senate race before you make such an assumption.
9.14.2008 12:15pm
Pragmaticist:
Leftists moan that Obama's race will cost him some votes, but don't want to focus on how his race wins him votes, e.g., guilty white liberals who want to sport their non-racism by voting for a black man, black people who register to vote, and then go out and vote just because Obama is black, etc.

It's unclear what the net outcome of Obama's race is in terms of the general election. One thing is crystal clear, if Obama had been white, he never would have been admitted to Harvard Law School, never would have been elected to the State Senate, U.S. Senate, etc.
9.14.2008 12:18pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

And let's not forget that in this case 90% of African-American voters, showing their usual rational and principled voting patterns, would vote for the McCain candidate.


That statement would be one reason blacks would reject a conservative out of hand. (Of course we know that white voters always vote in a rational and principled manner--not.)

Be that as it may, going by what I've read and heard, if it were Michael Steele, I doubt he'd get much support from the black community, regarded as he is by many blacks as an unprincipled Republican flunky. Colin Powell, OTOH, would probably be better positioned, as likely to be more liberal on social issues and less beholden to the party machinery. But if what the GOP machinery has done to McCain is any indication--turning him from a fiery maverick into a lobotomized bot--no black Republican would survive the Borgification process with any appeal left for black voters. Just my guess.
9.14.2008 12:20pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
I don't think we know about Obama's admission to Harvard. He is sufficiently charismatic and a good politician (remember how both of his main Senate opponents' divorce records just happened to leak?) that I don't see why, if were white, he couldn't have gotten elected to both the state senate and the U.S. Senate. Indeed, being white would likely have been a significant advantage for the latter.
9.14.2008 12:22pm
eforhan (mail):
A white Obama with so many shady connections would have been run out of the race long ago, and rightly so.
9.14.2008 12:25pm
rarango (mail):
what is it with lawyers and the effen hypotheticals--is this what you folks do to justify your outreagous billable hours fees? The issue is stark: Obama is a black man, and McCain is a white man. Thats the hand you are dealt. And please spare me the academic value of such discussions. Thats your world. Real people live in the real world and take things as they are. That rant delivered, let me suggest this:

The trend lines as shown by realclearpolitics also should give Team Obama major concern. And the elephant in the room is the so-called Brady effect. Very sad to say, but there is still racism in this country. When that is factored in, I would submit that Obamas's numbers are even lower than they appear in the polls. Unless team Obama comes up with a message, stops making Palin a victim thereby risking lose the white woman, demo, they are going down in Nov.
9.14.2008 12:26pm
tulsaoklawyer (mail):
A Black McCain would have voted against MLK Day. He might have won the Republican nomination, but he'd be treated like Clarence Thomas by Democrats.
9.14.2008 12:26pm
irksome1:
It seems to me that the thing that makes race a factor at all isn't really the color of one's skin but the underlying assumptions of the ideology that one's race represents. Hence, Obama's left-leaning ideology reinforces those underlying assumptions in a way that they wouldn't if he happened to be more of a conservative. I think Obama's race, if a disadvantage at all, would, ironically, be an advantage for him if he was on the other side of the aisle.
9.14.2008 12:27pm
a knight (mail) (www):
What kind of a senseless analogy is this? If McCain were black, his daddy would not have been an Admiral, and upon his return from the Hanoi Hilton, he would have been quickly forgotten. He would not be a US Senator. He would not have been able to marry a liquor cartel baron heiress, and his wife would still be interred in a Federal Penitentiary, convicted on a hundreds count felony drug indictment under Federal sentencing guidelines.

What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub? Give me a break.
9.14.2008 12:27pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Is the total number of blacks elected to federal government positions relevant here? Is the total number of black REPUBLICANS elected to federal government positions relevant here?

And, as others have asked, what would the reaction among Republican voters be to a black man with a 17-year old pregnant daughter?
9.14.2008 12:30pm
byomtov (mail):
One thing is crystal clear, if Obama had been white, he never would have been admitted to Harvard Law School, never would have been elected to the State Senate, U.S. Senate, etc.

Two things are crystal clear.

If George W. Bush had been George W. Smith he never would have been admitted to Yale or HBS, he would have been drafted and sent to Vietnam, never been bailed out of his business failures, never been elected Governor of Texas, etc.

If John McCain had not been the son and grandson of admirals he would never have been admitted to the USNA. If he hadn't dumped his first wife to marry Cindy he never would have had a political career.

I'd say those two facts are a lot clearer than yours.
9.14.2008 12:32pm
Brett Bellmore:

But if what the GOP machinery has done to McCain is any indication--turning him from a fiery maverick into a lobotomized bot


Turning him from a maverick into a dishonest maverick, if his campaigning on an amnesty in Spanish while abandoning that cause in English is any indication.
9.14.2008 12:34pm
Big E:
Moot question, if races were reversed neither of these two would be the nominees.
9.14.2008 12:35pm
Jerry F:
Even assuming that Obama would have been admitted to Columbia and HLS had he been white, it is clear that had he been white, he would never have been considered as a serious candidate for President with only one term in the Senate and would never have won the Democratic primary. If nothing else, no white man would have been able to get all of the black vote that would otherwise have gone to Clinton. If McCain was black, he would not have had any trouble winning the election, not only against a white Obama but against Clinton as well. Americans desperately want to vote for a black man and are willing to overlook Obama's extremist connections for that reason.

One way to think about it is Colin Powell: despite having political views that are unsatisfactory to the base of either party (far too left-wing for a Republican and far too right-wing for a Democrat), there is no doubt that he would have eaten McCain or Obama alive if he had wanted to run.
9.14.2008 12:36pm
Jerry F:
byomtov: Your two "facts" have absolutely nothing to do with Bernstein's hypothetical. Try to stay on topic.
9.14.2008 12:37pm
rarango (mail):
byomtov: you know nothing about admissions procedures to the military academies of this country as your post so eloquently demonstrates. Stick with what you know, not what you think you know. You will avoid making an ass of yourself.
9.14.2008 12:41pm
Mark E (mail):
90% - 95% of the 'black' voters would still vote for the democratic candidate

To that monolithic voting block, there are not and cannot be any republicans who are 'black'. At best they are called uncle toms, at worst they are called race traitors

The proof is lack of 'authentic' 'black' support for Rice, Powell, Thomas and other republicans of color. They are not celebrated, they are despised. I believe that the exact quote from the approved 'black' leadership was that "they left the plantation".
9.14.2008 12:45pm
Kirk:
You're talking about Colin Powell and Eugene McCarthy, right? How'd it go for Eugene, again???
9.14.2008 12:45pm
DG:
{no black man who finished last in his class at annapolis would've been allowed near a fighter jet.}

I know you're just a troll, but here's a question - what do you call the guy who finishes last in his class at Annapolis? "Ensign" or "2nd Lt". While there are areas that poor academics would disqualify you from (nuclear submarines), they don't go and put the "anchorman" behind a desk for his obligated service. He will end up as a Marine, an aviator, or a surface warfare officer. I would generally bet on the former, but thats my own prejudice, and likely has no basis in fact.
9.14.2008 12:46pm
Federal Dog:
"And let's say the Republican candidate was black"


He loses and is eviscerated as an "Uncle Tom" in very sustained and public fashion.
9.14.2008 12:48pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
It seems to me that the thing that makes race a factor at all isn't really the color of one's skin but the underlying assumptions of the ideology that one's race represents. Hence, Obama's left-leaning ideology reinforces those underlying assumptions in a way that they wouldn't if he happened to be more of a conservative. I think Obama's race, if a disadvantage at all, would, ironically, be an advantage for him if he was on the other side of the aisle.
Well, there's a provocative (and actually on point) comment. What do you all think? (I should say that I think that some people, including people otherwise inclined to vote for a Democrat, won't vote for a black candidate no matter what, but that doesn't answer the "net advantage or disadvantage" question in particular circumstances).
9.14.2008 12:49pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Check out some of the right-wing sites like Free Republic and you'll find that Black conservatives and libertarians like Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams are fully accepted (or even revered in Sowell's case). There probably are a few racial bigots left somewhere around, but basically the Right cares about neither its candidates' race nor gender.
9.14.2008 12:49pm
rarango (mail):
DG--you are absolutely correct. No ensign or 2LT goes to a desk job. We are condemned to those latter in our careers. Every graduate is going to become a line officer. And for those who know nothing about how the academies work, class standing is used primarily to rank cadets and middies into day to day classrooms. They use what is called the Thayer system that puts students of like performance with their peers. Class standings are also used to parcel out rewards such as early graduate school and in the case of USMA branch selection. But I don't expect many posters, unless they have an academy background to know or understand this.
9.14.2008 12:58pm
Annonymous Coward:
After graduating from Honolulu public high school and the University of Hawaii Barney O'Bama is the best spoken a surf shop owner on the north shore (his nickname is 'Blarney').

John Cain didn't go to Annapolis, but graduated from Howard University. He has a nice house in Prince George's County and commutes into his GS-14 job in DC.

There are 300 million people in the U.S. very small changes to one's personal narrative would have consequences.

Hillary Smith, got married and moved back to Chicago after graduation from Wellesley. She is now V.P.HR for Sears &Roebuck.
9.14.2008 12:58pm
byomtov (mail):
Jerry F.,

I notice you didn't bother to criticize pragmatist for his similarly irrelevant comment. Why not, I wonder.

rarango,

Sorry. I'm sure the process is absolutely pure, utterly unsullied by family connections, etc. Give me a break. And I note you don't even bother to comment on McCain's political career being based on Cindy's beer millions.
9.14.2008 12:58pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The conservative blogs were full of a nearly Palinish crush on Condi during the first two or three years of the current admin. Some were wimps, thought she needed to be VP first. Seasoning and all that.
But that ended when it turned out she's kind of mushy where conservatives think SecState needs to be firmer.
Point is, race was not an issue, and when the issues became clearer, nobody felt guilted into continuing the crush.
9.14.2008 12:59pm
theobromophile (www):
Hillary won the popular vote. She lost the delegate count because a bunch of superdelegates would prefer to be thought sexist than racist. Obama did well in the overall delegate count for two reasons: campaigning in states that were likely to win him the most delegates, and states like Mississippi, where he did well with African-American voters. If he were white, one of those elements would be missing. Add in the super-delegate votes, and Hillary would have either trounced him in the primaries, or gotten the vote in the convention.

So Hillary v. a Colin-Powell-type with Sarah Barracuda as his VP? Not a chance that Hill would win. There are a lot of people who wished that Colin Powell would have run in 2000; there are a lot of people who hoped (and still hope) to see Condi run, but the thing holding her back is not her race, but her affiliation with the much-maligned Bush administration.

White liberals are exceedingly unkind to those minorities who do not toe the party line. Perhaps a liberal could not conceive of Republicans voting for an African-American man on race, but that is their perception.

Before a liberal seriously states that a minority Republican would not do well within our party, he ought to explain why President Bush assembled the most racially-diverse Cabinet in the history of this country, and why the only black man on the Supreme Court was put there by the aforementioned President's father.

Is that the sound of crickets I hear, or is it just raindrops against my window?
9.14.2008 12:59pm
Sally:
Republicans have won 5 of the last 7 Presidential elections and there wasn't an African-American candidate on the Dem ticket in any of those contests. Are we really supposed to believe that if the Democrats lose THIS election is can only be because hidden racism will be the defining factor?

As to whether or not a black McCain could beat a white Obama, perhaps the question is better put like this: how likely is it that the Southern states will vote for a liberal Democrat on the ticket just because he's white, or the mountain states? Or that NY, MA, IL,
CA will go Republican just because that candidate is African-American?

If CA or NY go Republican in this election cycle, then it will be easier to believe that racism made a difference. If the electoral map stays pretty much the same, then it should be clear that it wasn't.
9.14.2008 12:59pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Hey, literalists. The post may be entitled "what if Obama were white and McCain were black," but if you read my (if not Kennedy's hypothetical), I posit two candidates with similar ideologies and backgrounds to the current ones, with races reversed, not that we need to literally imagine how McCain and Obama's lives would be if they were of the other race. So please spare me, and the rest of us, posts about how a black McCain wouldn't have married an heiress and so forth.
9.14.2008 1:05pm
Passing By:
Why do we have to stretch our imaginations to come up with your "black McCain" - why isn't there a single Republican name you can provide as a "for instance"?

You posit two candidates, one of whom could presently exist only in a work of fiction. Sure, it's fun to play with ridiculous hypotheticals - that's what law school exams are about, right, and no doubt you've written a few of those. But bring us to reality - give us a few names of actual people who would fit the bill on the Republican side, or even come close. Somebody else came up with Colin Powell, except Powell's politics seem to be more in line with Obama's than with McCain's, so he doesn't really fit.
9.14.2008 1:13pm
rarango (mail):
Bymotov: again, please tell me what you know about the process rather than what your prejudices lead you to believe--lets agree on what we know rather than what you think you know. And please tell me, sir, what McCain's marriage issues have to do with his admission to a service academy?
9.14.2008 1:16pm
rarango (mail):
Oops--Byomtov: apologies for the misspell of your name.
9.14.2008 1:18pm
Angus:

Before a liberal seriously states that a minority Republican would not do well within our party, he ought to explain why President Bush assembled the most racially-diverse Cabinet in the history of this country,
If you look below cabinet heads, Bush's appointments have been far less diverse than Clinton's. That feeds into the perception of tokenism on the part of Republicans.

How many black Republicans are there currently in Congress. I believe the answer is somewhere less than 1.

and why the only black man on the Supreme Court was put there by the aforementioned President's father.

Currently, yes. Thurgood Marshall, though, ftw. And honestly, who would be more likely to nominate a black Supreme Court Justice in 2009: a Republican or Democrat?
9.14.2008 1:19pm
Sally:
"Why do we have to stretch our imaginations to come up with your "black McCain" - why isn't there a single Republican name you can provide as a "for instance"?"

Name a conservative Democrat (black or white) who would have a prayer of getting the Democratic presidential nomination. Conservative Democrats don't even bother running in the primaries.
9.14.2008 1:19pm
A.W. (mail):
I think all of this analysis ignores how many people supported him because he was black.

I have long joked, here and elsewhere, if he was white, he would be John Edwards, circa 2004. Consider it. Articulate, handsome, very liberal, utterly unqualified.

He is America's first affirmative action candidate. Anyone who claim he lost because of that has to at least confront this reality.
9.14.2008 1:24pm
FlimFlamSam:
Randy Kennedy's language is ambiguous, but it seems he's saying that Black McCain would lose to White Obama. I don't think this is true at all, I think that Black McCain would beat White Obama by a greater margin than White McCain will beat Black Obama.
9.14.2008 1:25pm
elim:
in the hypothetical, would there still be "community organizers" telling the uneducated the correct person to vote for during the election? blacks are going to vote for Democrats because Democrats promise them lots of things. why would skin color change that?
9.14.2008 1:25pm
Swede:
If McCain loses a close election and it turns out the overwhelming majority of black Americans voted for Obama, can we conclude then that "racism may well be a decisive factor"?
9.14.2008 1:25pm
FlimFlamSam:
And besides, why the hell would we (conservatives) ever care what black people think? They will never vote for us. I'd be happy if we would quit the pandering and just write them off entirely.

Let's assume, hypothetically, that every black person in America was convinced beyond doubt that racist conservatives and moderates are the reason Obama lost. So what? The number of election results that would change based on that is very close to zero. The few black people who vote GOP now are not concerned with race politics anyway, and the vast majority who vote Democrat can still only vote once.
9.14.2008 1:28pm
FlimFlamSam:

If McCain loses a close election and it turns out the overwhelming majority of black Americans voted for Obama, can we conclude then that "racism may well be a decisive factor"?


Absolutely. Black racism is very real.
9.14.2008 1:29pm
Angus:

And besides, why the hell would we (conservatives) ever care what black people think?
And people wonder why conservatives have an anti-minority reputation...
9.14.2008 1:34pm
Dave N (mail):
Passing By,

Someone earlier suggested Michael Steele. There's also J.C. Watts and Lynn Swann. Those are 3 off the top of my head.
9.14.2008 1:36pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

If McCain loses a close election and it turns out the overwhelming majority of black Americans voted for Obama, can we conclude then that "racism may well be a decisive factor"?


Racism, or racial identification? There's a difference--or is anyone of color simply a racist by definition?

If a Chinese-American ran for President and the majority of Chinese-Americans voted for him or her, or a Latino ran for president and the majority of Latinos voted for him or her, would that be racism as well?
9.14.2008 1:37pm
Pragmaticist:
If everything else were the same right now except that McCain were black and Obama were white, I think we'd see McCain win by a landslide because many African-Americans would vote for a black GOP McCain over a white Dem Obama.
9.14.2008 1:39pm
Jon Roland (mail) (www):
Most in this forum are arguing with the hypothetical, which is obviously intended to try to estimate the weight of the various factors influencing the ways voters decide. We are speculating, because we lack data, and polls are not likely to elicit honest answers on this.

I do propose a different statement of the question. Suppose Obama joined the Republican Party and embraced its platform, and McCain joined the Democratic Party, and did the same.

My sense of things is that a Republican Obama would win by a larger margin than a Democratic one would. Most Republicans are just as eager to elect a black president as most Democrats are. The few racists are probably not going to vote for a Democrat in either case.

The problem most voters have with Obama isn't his lack of experience. Most people like him and think he's smart enough to overcome a lack of experience. But despite the dissatisfaction with Bush and with Congress, I sense the majority of voters don't like the positions on the issues that the Democratic Party will pressure any Democrat in the White House to take, despite the rather conservative positions Obama is taking in the campaign. They don't think a Democratic Congress would allow him to do what he says he wants to do.

While I don't think most voters are sophisticated enough to contemplate it, one suspects that if it were explained to them, most of them might prefer Obama with a Republican-controlled Congress, similar to the situation of Clinton after 1994, but with Republicans who are really committed to the reform agenda that got them elected in 1994 but that they departed from later. For that purpose they might prefer McCain stay in the Senate,l switch back to Republican, and become majority leader.

The change Obama represents is not really a change of policy or programs. It is Obama himself. It is the effect his election to the presidency would have as a role model for the next generation of young Blacks. That is a powerful argument for electing him, and one that I suspect is winning him more votes than he is losing by his race. But perhaps not powerful enough to overcome the party he is in.

If Obama loses, and I now think he will, mainly due to the Palin factor, I would urge him to join the Libertarian Party, because that is where the real solutions lie.

In the meantime, the attention of the country remains on Sarah Palin, and I now expect that to continue through the election. Once people get past all the snarky rumors and attacks, which do more to discredit the attackers than her, one is left with a lady who comes across as more presidential than any other candidate in this election. Does she lack experience? Sure. But people can see her growing right before their eyes. No doubt she has received a lot of coaching (which mostly usefully probably just consists of reading a lot of materials), but her performance in interviews goes way beyond what she could be doing if she had really started from scratch on August 29. No one can learn that fast. She already has most of the judgment and skills needed to act as president, to the extent anyone does, and she is rapidly learning the details and nuances. People are going to vote for McCain to get Palin, largely because they are fascinated to see what she will do in office. It goes way beyond agreement or disagreement with her positions on issues. She is just more dramatically interesting, in this age of entertainment.
9.14.2008 1:39pm
Swede:
Racism, or racial identification? There's a difference--or is anyone of color simply a racist by definition?

Is there a difference? And if there is, does it only apply to people of "color"?
9.14.2008 1:42pm
tvk:
David,

First, let me say that my assessment would be that if McCain were black and had secured the Republican nomination, he would win in a landslide. That is because (1) blacks would vote for him in droves, and (2) it would strongly counteract the perception that the Republican party took advantage of racial animus with the Southern Strategy.

But your hypothetical has some obvious problems:

1. You leave out Obama's main strength: magnetic personality. And it goes a long, long way when we consider that JFK defeated a sitting vice president.

2. A black McCain simply would never have made it out of the Republican primaries. So the fact that he would win the general election in a landslide is moot.
9.14.2008 1:42pm
Dave N (mail):
I would also note that with respect to John McCain that while I agree he would likely not be a U.S. Senator from Arizona if he had not married Cindy, to argue he would have had no political future at all ignores what actually happened.

First, while still married to Carol McCain, John McCain was Navy Liason to the U.S. Senate. There he cultivated relationships with both Democrats and Republicans (Gary Hart was his best man when he married Cindy; Bill Cohen was a mentor).

Second, he started scouting Florida congressional districts--particularly those with a high contingent of military retirees (there are several), clearly planning on running in one of them.

Given his Washington contacts, made prior to meeting Cindy McCain, he would have raised sufficient money to be competitive in Florida politics. Would he have won? Who knows. I am speaking facts, not alternate realities that fit whatever position you want them to.
9.14.2008 1:42pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

Is there a difference? And if there is, does it only apply to people of "color"?


I think it's the difference between a positive and a negative. Most voters, including whites, vote for the person they most identify with, don't you think?
9.14.2008 1:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
And consider my hypotheticals, Swede--would it be "racism" in the case of Latinos or Chinese-Americans?
9.14.2008 1:48pm
Sally:
"That is because (1) blacks would vote for him in droves"

African-Americans haven't done that in other elections when a Black Republican ran (see Michael Steele in MD Senate race).

Perhaps it is an insult to African-Americans to assume that they are voting for Obama simply because he is Black. They'd be voting Dem regardless. It may be that it creates a greater incentive for them, to donate, volunteer, etc., but I don't think it's at all clear that African-Americans would vote for someone who didn't represent their political beliefs just because he's of the same race.
9.14.2008 1:50pm
Angus:

Someone earlier suggested Michael Steele. There's also J.C. Watts and Lynn Swann. Those are 3 off the top of my head.
Steele and Swann have never won election to any government position (though Steele was on the ticket as Lt. Gov under a white candidate). The undue prominence that Steele has been given at the 2004 and 2008 Republican conventions just emphasizes the lack of black republicans.

As for Watts, he's criticized McCain and the GOP strongly this election cycle for writing off the black vote immediately, and for having campaign teams that do not include a single African-American. He's even said publicly that he's considering voting for Obama as a result.

The idea that the GOP is currently "open" to African-Americans is laughable.
9.14.2008 1:54pm
Swede:
I think it's the difference between a positive and a negative. Most voters, including whites, vote for the person they most identify with, don't you think?

Yes, I do. However, if by "identify with" do you mean by race? Or idealogy?

If you mean by race, it would appear that the author's main point that "if Obama loses a close election, racism may well be a decisive factor" would be equally valid if, as I posed earlier, that McCain loses a close race and most black Americans voted for Obama. Again, would the author's point be valid?

Bobby Jindal won the governorship of Louisianna because his conservative values appealed to the majority of voters. I don't know how eager they were to put an Indian American into the governor's mansion. But, apparently, they were eager to put a conservative there.
9.14.2008 1:54pm
Angus:

Bobby Jindal won the governorship of Louisianna because his conservative values appealed to the majority of voters. I don't know how eager they were to put an Indian American into the governor's mansion.
Jindal is actually a good example of race costing someone an election. When Jindal ran for LA Gov in 2003, most people expected he would win. However, on election day conservative white districts had lower turnout than normal, and those who did turn out voted more for the white Democrat than expected. It cost Jindal a very close race.
9.14.2008 2:01pm
Swede:
Jindal is actually a good example of race costing someone an election. When Jindal ran for LA Gov in 2003, most people expected he would win. However, on election day conservative white districts had lower turnout than normal, and those who did turn out voted more for the white Democrat than expected. It cost Jindal a very close race.

Really?

How do explain the fact that he's the governor now?
9.14.2008 2:05pm
Dave N (mail):
Angus,

Michael Steele was elected Lieutenant Governor. The way you wrote your post, it almost sounds like the ticket he was on LOST. Yes, it was a yoked ticket but your argument is like saying Dick Cheney or Al Gore was never elected tonational office because they were only Vice President.

Oh, another black Republican: Ken Blackwell, former Ohio Secretary of State--who never received a significant number of black votes in being elected to statewide office three times.
9.14.2008 2:05pm
Swede:
And consider my hypotheticals, Swede--would it be "racism" in the case of Latinos or Chinese-Americans?

That's what I'm asking.

In other words, is it only "racist" when whites do it?
9.14.2008 2:07pm
FlimFlamSam:

And besides, why the hell would we (conservatives) ever care what black people think?

And people wonder why conservatives have an anti-minority reputation...


Way to take me out of context. My point is this: if it becomes clear that a constituency is forever in the clutch of the opposing party, pandering to them becomes pointless and counterproductive.

Conservatives should certainly care about issues of concern to blacks, but conservatives should stop pandering to blacks. We are much better served to pander to women and, arguably, Latinos.
9.14.2008 2:19pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
A black McCain (how about 50% black just to keep this realistic) versus a white BHO would probably produce nearly the same result because in my opinion ideology and party affiliation dominate race as a determining factor. Fewer blacks would vote Democratic, probably 80% instead of 95%. A few whites would shift their votes to the Democrats. I would guess something like 5%. And about 15% of the Latino voters would shift to the Democrats. The shift by blacks would cost the Democrats about 1.5%, but they would gain 2% from the whites who switch away from the Republicans, but I think they would gain another 1.8% from the Latino Republicans voting for the white Democrat. The net is a slight gain for the Democrats, but the other imponderables make it too close to call under this hypothetical.
9.14.2008 2:20pm
Derrick (mail):
How do explain the fact that he's the governor now?


I think that your missing the point Swede. No one said that racism can't be overcome. It's that people had to become "comfortable" with Jindal before he was elected. Eventually, through years of campaigning Jindal was able to get some of those reluctant Republicans to pull the lever for him, but even many Republican strategists at the time admitted that a "Bradley effect" occurred in his first run. Racism is judging another person on their race instead of their qualifications and persona. It's hard to argue that a bit of that occurred during Jindal's first run considering the support he's been getting from that same base once they got to know him.
9.14.2008 2:21pm
theobromophile (www):
Jindal is actually a good example of race costing someone an election. When Jindal ran for LA Gov in 2003, most people expected he would win. However, on election day conservative white districts had lower turnout than normal, and those who did turn out voted more for the white Democrat than expected. It cost Jindal a very close race.

Angus,

Have you ANY proof of this assertion? ANY? Is it your contention that every time a person of colour loses an election, it is because of race? I hate to tell you, but over half of people who run for major offices lose - between primaries and the general election, chances are that you won't win anyway.

Now, in 2003, Bobby Jindal was 32 years old. 32 years old. Five years later, he is the youngest governor in this country.

Here's a thought: Gov. Jindal lost in 2003 because voters thought he was too frickin young to run a state, not because they are closet racists.
9.14.2008 2:24pm
just me (mail):
I don't think a white Obama at this point in his career would have gotten the nomination-his thin resume would have either killed him or maybe resulted in a John Edwards VP consolation prize after Hillary won the nomination (assuming Hillary was still running).

The novelty of Obama's race I think helps overcome the weaknesses in his resume. I don't think a white Obama would never have a shot at winning a nomination, but I think it would have required he pay more dues in the world of politics first.
9.14.2008 2:25pm
Derrick (mail):
Conservatives should certainly care about issues of concern to blacks, but conservatives should stop pandering to blacks. We are much better served to pander to women and, arguably, Latinos.


Let's been honest, modern day conservatives have wasted barely a breath to get black votes. You can pretty much quote JC Watts, your former outreach person on that.
9.14.2008 2:26pm
Lily (mail):
Funny, in my conversations about the Presidential race with neighbors, friends and co-workers, Obama's race or ethnicity never comes up. We discuss proposed policies, affiliations, speeches, etc. But never race. (And we are a mixed bunch - politically)

I guess we are the true post-racialists.

What bothers me is the constant attempt to get me to vote for a particular person to assuage my supposed 'white guilt'. But good luck with that because I feel no white guilt. I won't vote for Senator Obama because I don't like his policies or his vision for the American Government. I don't want his brand of change. Call me a racist if you'd like. I have a clear conscience.
9.14.2008 2:27pm
10ksnooker (mail):
It has already happened, the answer is clear, his name is Justice Clarance Thomas. They tried mightily to destroy him.

Obama is running solely on race, nothing more, he has no resume of accomplishments. The GOP would have never nominated such a lightweight, regardless of race.
9.14.2008 2:29pm
Asher (mail):
Hard to say. I think a decent percentage of blacks would vote for the Republican and that that would more than counteract the racist Republicans who crossed over to vote for the Democrat.
9.14.2008 2:31pm
TWAndrews (mail):
I think that the Republican candidate would absolutely destroy the Democrat in such a case. That's based on the following assumptions:

1. The number of people who would vote against a black candidate for no other reason than they are black is small, and so Republican turn out and vote share would be typical compared to the last couple of elections.

2. A significant number of democrats and left-leaning independents would vote for a right-center black candidate.

3. Black Americans would vote for a black right-center candidate in relatively high numbers.
9.14.2008 2:31pm
Dave N (mail):
TWAndrews,

I think that both your second and third assertions are belied by the historical record.

In Ohio (Blackwell), Maryland (Steele), and Pennsylvania (Swann), Black Republicans met your basic criteria (right-center, none were loons like Alan Keyes). All lost. None got significant numbers of black voters.
9.14.2008 2:41pm
Jim at FSU (mail):
A black republican candidate would be a huge problem for teh dems. Even when they have a white guy running, the Dems reliably pick up 90 percent of the black vote without trying. A compelling black candidate on the republican ticket might conceivably split the black vote. This would be ruinous in a lot of close states like Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Florida that are almost entirely conservative and white but have a few cities with large black populations that help keep the presidential races close.

You have to remember that black people align themselves with the Democrats but if you interviewed the average black person, their social views would align completely with a generic republican platform. I think it is only a matter of time before younger blacks begin to question why they are so loyal to a party that takes their votes for granted without representing their worldview.

Take away the stale racial identity politics and blacks will start voting like ordinary american voters- on issues. We've already seen how attempts to pander to hispanics have mostly fallen flat. Give it another 10-20 years and blacks will behave the same way.
9.14.2008 2:41pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Wow, counting a Lt. Gov. and a Sec. of State (both out of power now), we're almost up to a full hand's worth of fingers (without needing to use the thumb) in counting elected black Republicans in the last several decades. Not to mention the embarrassingly low % of black delegates at the recent Republican Convention.

To get back to DB's hypo, there's a flaw nobody has mentioned. While it plays well here, the "Obama is SUPERDUPER LEFTIST but McCain is a MODERATE" line isn't actually accurate. Obama's positions on the issues were pretty much exactly the same as Hillary's, for example, and that "Obama is the most liberal Senator" meme has been debunked. On the other hand, McCain left moderation long ago: I know the right hates McCain-Feingold, but among many other things, he's switched positions on tax cuts, and the whole Palin gambit was in part to shore up the religious-right base and mollify the folks McCain once correctly called "agents of intolerance."
9.14.2008 2:45pm
subpatre (mail):
TWAndrews writes: "Black Americans would vote for a black right-center candidate in relatively high numbers."

Steele disproves that assumption. Black Americans vote 'D' for whites, blacks, or yellow dogs; they do not deviate.
9.14.2008 2:48pm
Sam H (mail):
"If CA or NY go Republican in this election cycle, then it will be easier to believe that racism made a difference. If the electoral map stays pretty much the same, then it should be clear that it wasn't."

Note that it would racist Democratic voters that would flip those states and it may just happen.
9.14.2008 2:50pm
SirBillsalot (mail):
I think it's pretty clear that Obama got into Harvard and graduated Magna Cum Laude on merit. But without his racial background, I think it's unlikely a mere law student, however bright, would have been asked to write an autobiography. And without that sort of recognition, he'd most likely be stuck working for a living - perhaps in a law firm, or perhaps academia.

McCain also got early recognition because of an accident of his birth. I understand it's because of his father's position that the Vietnamese tortured him so heavily, hoping to exploit the propaganda value.
9.14.2008 2:51pm
Lily (mail):

I think it's pretty clear that Obama got into Harvard and graduated Magna Cum Laude on merit

Are we sure we know this? I understand Sen Obama has not yet released his college transcripts.
9.14.2008 2:57pm
just me (mail):
3. Black Americans would vote for a black right-center candidate in relatively high numbers.


I don't agree at all with this assumption. History tells us that black voters pretty much fall into the yellow dog democrat category. I think there is a shift in this coming though, since it appears younger AA's are far more open minded politically than their older counter parts.

I do suspect a black GOP candidate could and would probably perform better among african americans than a white candidate, but I am not sure this would be in significant enough numbers to make a difference in election results.
9.14.2008 3:00pm
Kirk:
Angus,
And honestly, who would be more likely to nominate a black Supreme Court Justice in 2009: a Republican or Democrat?

Turn the question around: who would be more likely to nominate Janice Rogers Brown to the Court, as opposed to Bill Clinton (though admittedly as America's First Black President he might qualify as a Black Justice as well.)
9.14.2008 3:03pm
Dave N (mail):
Joseph Slater,

Oh you are counting the last several decades? In that case, we should add Edward Brooke, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts; Jeanette Bradley, Ohio Lieutenant Governor and State Treasurer; and Joe Rogers, Colorado Lieutenant Governor.

If we go into elected officials below the statewide level, in addition to J.C. Watts, Garry Franks was also elected to Congress. Several Blacks, including Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece, have been elected to state legislatures as Republicans.
9.14.2008 3:08pm
FlimFlamSam:

Let's been honest, modern day conservatives have wasted barely a breath to get black votes. You can pretty much quote JC Watts, your former outreach person on that.


What are we supposed to do? We can't compromise principles, i.e. support liberal social programs. We throw Republicans under the bus who show even a hint of racism (see Trent Lott).

At the end of the day, it's all about economics. We can get a better return on our investment pandering to women and (maybe) Latinos than we ever would pandering to blacks. We conservatives should focus our political energies there and stop worrying about what the "black community" wants. There aren't enough black voters up for grabs to in the general election to make it worthwhile for Republicans to pursue them.
9.14.2008 3:17pm
CB55 (mail):
Bush II and McCain are by products of a lucky sperm because they were born into the right family with the right social networks, most other mortals are forced to wait in line, look for discounts, clip coupons, and learn to take orders and not give them. Give the Middle Class a dime and they will eat the Working Class but for a dollar they will eat their own young or each other.
9.14.2008 3:19pm
SirBillsalot (mail):

Are we sure we know this? I understand Sen Obama has not yet released his college transcripts.


Whether or not his transcripts from Columbia are available, I think it is a reasonable supposition that HLS didn't reach down much or at all to recruit a candidate who went on to graduate magna cum laude from HLS. Why would you suppose otherwise?
9.14.2008 3:22pm
A.W. (mail):
Remember, if you don't elect the unqualified candidate with no 1) relevant experience or 2) accomplishments, who 1) used drugs, 2) associates with terrorists, 3) sat in a racist church for 20 years, 4) found no corruption in the Chicago machine, 5) has called women "sweetie" and "pig," 6) has insulted a disable vet based on the disablities he gained in service to this country, 7) has voted to raise taxes on anyone making more than %50K a year, 8) said that gas prices rose this summer faster than he would like (but voicing no objection to the $4 a gallon price per se), 9) attempted to pass a law for "comprehensive" sex ed for kindergardeners (and guys, comphrehensive means comprehensive), and block state legislation that would have banned infanticide (as in, the murder of fully born children), then clearly you are a racist.

Shame on you!
9.14.2008 3:22pm
SirBillsalot (mail):

Bush II and McCain are by products of a lucky sperm because they were born into the right family with the right social networks, most other mortals are forced to wait in line, look for discounts, clip coupons, and learn to take orders and not give them.


Yes, McCain's family connections got him tortured. What a lucky person he was.
9.14.2008 3:24pm
FlimFlamSam:

Whether or not his transcripts from Columbia are available, I think it is a reasonable supposition that HLS didn't reach down much or at all to recruit a candidate who went on to graduate magna cum laude from HLS. Why would you suppose otherwise?


The strange refusal of the Obama campaign to release the transcripts suggests there is something in them they don't want us to see. Duh.
9.14.2008 3:24pm
good strategy (mail):

If McCain loses a close election and it turns out the overwhelming majority of black Americans voted for Obama, can we conclude then that "racism may well be a decisive factor"?


No, you may not.

An overwhelming majority of black Americans were going to vote for the Democratic candidate no matter who that turned out to be for all sorts of perfectly understandable reasons.

Thus, you're prejudging a correlation/causation problem to assume that prejudice will be a determinative motivation for black American voters. Ahem

I believe the social psychology of voting could be partially racial without being racist. Building mutual trust between different subcultures in American society is an absolute good for America. Voting for someone on that basis is different than voting against someone on a personal, racial basis.

If you assume that any and all influence of race is prejudicial, then aren't you all logically compelled to presume that the influence of other aspects of group social psychology are prejudicial? Shouldn't you be completely appalled at the tribalism of the religious right in re: Palin, or the gender solidarity of some Hillary Clinton supporters, and identity politics in general?

I suspect that the comment came out of a desire to see race and identity politics as less important, a desire I share. If we concede race, gender, or any other identity subject to social construction as a legitimate factor in voting, however marginal it might be, then race and identity maintains an importance I'd rather not see it elevated to. Fine. Ironically, many people voting for Barack Obama would also like to see race and identity to be less important in the grand scheme of things. We appreciate Obama not merely as a symbol of progress but as someone whose political premise, as articulated in his 2004 Keynote, is to reduce divisiveness and emphasize the common good, and not through the magic power of his being the first black president but through his example of genuine mutual respect.

That's an example John McCain and the Republicans have not reciprocated, by the way.
9.14.2008 3:25pm
Anon1:
"I'm inclined to agree that Obama starts out with an overall disadvantage because of his race."

Why would you make this assumption? As others have noted, if Obama were not black he would not be the Democratic nominee. Do you doubt it? So even if there are a sizable number of racists in the Democratic party, he benefitted from his race. Now, in the general election, it is harder to say. It is still not clear to me, though, that he is harmed more by his race than helped among independents. My guess is that he is not, since once again, he would not be the nominee otherwise and independents can see that that.
9.14.2008 3:27pm
FlimFlamSam:
good strategy,

Nobody's prejudging anything. The gentleman's point was that black people will disproportionately vote for Obama because they--as a statistical whole--prefer a black to a white. That certainly SEEMS true, given the results of the Democratic primary, where Obama won states with lots of black voters and Hillary won states with few black voters.
9.14.2008 3:30pm
Dave N (mail):
CB55:

Lucky sperm? Yes, both John McCain's father and grandfather were semi-famous admirals. Yes, Senator McCain went to the Naval Academy--but the military is one of the true meritocracies in America. There is no indication he lived anything but how you would expect any other young officer to live in the 1960s--which is hardly in the lap of luxury. I am unaware of his father playing any significant role in furthering the Senator's political career.
9.14.2008 3:30pm
A.W. (mail):
Flimflam

This is why it is so smart for women to be willing to vote for McCain. The worst thing you can do is say you will never vote for the other side. Then the other side will ignore you after a while, and then so will your side knowing they don't have to do anything for your vote other than show up.

I mean in 2004, I was a Texan going to law school in CT. The entire election passed me by. I didn't see any ads unless they were on Brit Hume, whether I was home or at school. Why? Because everyone knew that Texas would go for Bush, and CT would go for Lieberman/Gore. Of course a lot of the TV I got in CT was from New York City, but both campaigns saw no point in buying ad space there either.

But do you really think it helped those three states to be taken for granted?

African Americans as a group would be better off if they just voted republican once to show they needed to be won over.
9.14.2008 3:30pm
Angus:

Have you ANY proof of this assertion? ANY?

I lived in in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The overwhelming conclusion among LA Republicans, from officials down to GOP voters (of which I was one back in the day) was that a lot of white conservatives just could not pull the lever for someone with brown skin named Piyush Jindal.

That they did so in 2007 was due in large part to state Democrats being horribly out of favor post-Katrina and mounting very little credible opposition in the race.

As it was, if Democrat John Breaux had decided to jump in the race, political analysts concluded that he would have won the conservative white vote over Jindal.
9.14.2008 3:33pm
Angus:

Yes, Senator McCain went to the Naval Academy--but the military is one of the true meritocracies in America.
In theory, yes. In reality, not as much -- like most idealistic visions. Pure senority plays a significant part in promotions, and sometimes the easiest way to get rid of an underperformer is to get them promoted out.
9.14.2008 3:39pm
Asher (mail):

African Americans as a group would be better off if they just voted republican once to show they needed to be won over.


Vastly better off, but in the real world people don't strategically vote so as to signal to their preferred party that they need to be won over.
9.14.2008 3:40pm
FlimFlamSam:
A.W.,

I agree entirely. I don't understand why people are so offended and surprised that Republicans don't make more of a play for the black vote. People bring up game theory in the VC comments a lot. Game theory gives you your answer: blacks are one of the hardest Democrat constituencies to peel off, so why try when there are easier moderate Dem constituencies to go after?
9.14.2008 3:41pm
Angus:
The strange refusal of the Obama campaign to release the transcripts suggests there is something in them they don't want us to see. Duh.
Knowing how the current GOP will twist everything, he probably is making the smart move. For example, if Obama took a course on human sexuality in college, McCain would probably use that in a commercial to make Obama look like a sex addict.
9.14.2008 3:42pm
Dave N (mail):
Angus,

The military is more likely to refuse to promote a mediocrity--and if you do not advance, you are forced out. Get passed over twice and your career is effectively over.
9.14.2008 3:43pm
Dave N (mail):
Angus,

Additionally, military assignments are typically 3 years. Thus, there is no reason to "promote out" an underachiever. In 3 years that person is gone anyway.
9.14.2008 3:47pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

If you mean by race, it would appear that the author's main point that "if Obama loses a close election, racism may well be a decisive factor" would be equally valid if, as I posed earlier, that McCain loses a close race and most black Americans voted for Obama. Again, would the author's point be valid?


Not to my mind, because I object to this loose use of the word "racism" as being interchangeable with "identity voting." My dictionary defines racism as:

1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination

It's a negative quality--voting against someone because they're a certain color--as opposed to voting for someone because they are more like you or you think they will represent your community better than someone who's not like you, or perhaps you simply want to see someone who's like you succeed and be a credit to your ethnic or racial group.

If all identity politics is simply racism, then we come to a point at which the term, as commonly understood, is so downwardly defined that one could say, "Well, what's wrong with racism? Isn't that just voting my own interests or preferences?"

In any election where race or ethnicity plays a part, there's certain to be some elements of racism at play. But to say that voting for a Latino mayor in LA or a black mayor in Detroit is an indication of racism pretty much renders the term meaningless.


In other words, is it only "racist" when whites do it?


No, it isn't. Historically speaking, there are reasons why whites are more often charged with racism than other ethnic or racial groups. But obviously anyone of any color can be racist. To assume that any racial or ethnic group that votes for one its own is "racist" unjustly ascribes negative motives or thoughts to that group.
9.14.2008 3:49pm
rarango (mail):
When Obama submits his medical records to public scrutiny, like John McCain has done; and when Obama submits his transcripts from colleges as is public record with McCain, then I will be impressed.. Until then, Obama has stonewalled us. Not that I give a damn, dont plan to vote for the phoney bastard, but you would think the posters here who seem to put very large stock in "intellectual heft" along with McCain's impending demise, would at least have the intellectual honesty to demand reciprocation. YMMV of course--but it sure looks dishonest to me.
9.14.2008 3:52pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

The gentleman's point was that black people will disproportionately vote for Obama because they--as a statistical whole--prefer a black to a white.


That may be true, for various reasons, but racism isn't necessarily one of them.


I don't understand why people are so offended and surprised that Republicans don't make more of a play for the black vote.


They're only offended when Republicans turn around and say blacks are racist for not voting Republican.
9.14.2008 3:55pm
Kazinski:
What most of the people in this thread don't acknowlege is that it is really independents and conservative democrats that are the swing vote in a close election and would be the most likely to be racially influenced. Be hard to call republicans racists if McCain won, the culprits would be racist democrats that wouldn't support their own party's nominee.

In the hypothetical I'd say the black McCain would beat the white Obama. Micheal Steele actually got much higher percentages of the black vote in Maryland than a typical white Republican, the problem is that Maryland is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. Steele got about 25% of the black vote, his biggest problem was that he only got 39% of women to vote for him.
9.14.2008 4:12pm
Dan O (mail) (www):
Excuse me.... Did someone say Barrack Obama is black? Holy crap, that means I'm going to have to totally reevaluate this here situation. I thought he was a member of a Marxist minstrel Show.

Seriously when it comes to ideology, a rose is a rose by any other name. His skin pigment has little to do with my disdain for his politics.
9.14.2008 4:23pm
nicestrategy (mail):

That certainly SEEMS true, given the results of the Democratic primary, where Obama won states with lots of black voters and Hillary won states with few black voters.


That's not true. Obama won the states with large black populations by wide margins. He also won a number of states with tiny black populations (Iowa among many others). Where Obama struggled was in Appalachia and in states closer to the median % of African-Americans.
9.14.2008 4:27pm
FlimFlamSam:

Be hard to call republicans racists if McCain won, the culprits would be racist democrats that wouldn't support their own party's nominee.


Kazinski, this is the best point anybody has made in this entire thread.
9.14.2008 4:27pm
Franklin Drackman:
Nah, its Obamas far left agenda/friends that are gonna give the Demos another "L". I'd vote for a Snoop Dog/O.J. Simpson ticket if they'd leave my religion and guns alone, Nome Sayin? A Demos gotta run to the center to win, like Clinton, maybe even fly home during the campaign to sign an Execution Warrant on a Brutha.
9.14.2008 4:27pm
loki13 (mail):
This is amazing. The comment threads here have gotten so crazy with general nuttery that I can't even be sarcastic. The wildest and most ironic thing I could dream of would pass for an earnest observation at this point.
9.14.2008 4:43pm
byomtov (mail):
rarango,

What I know is that most admissions are merit-based, but there are appointments that are simply political. Further, there are preferences for the children of career officers.

Does that prove hat McCain didn't get in on pure merit? No. But given that he seems to have not been a great student it certainly gives pause.

You may call it a prejudice that I think that influence helps. I'd call it common sense.
9.14.2008 4:46pm
trad and anon:
The idea that the Republican party would nominate a black man for President is too absurd too take seriously. The base would have voted for Romney in a landslide.
9.14.2008 5:12pm
Grover Gardner (mail):

Kazinski, this is the best point anybody has made in this entire thread.


And I, for once, am in agreement with you.
9.14.2008 5:12pm
DerHahn (mail):
If Obama were 100% white, he'd be John Edwards.
9.14.2008 5:27pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Today Frank Rich made an interesting point that seems relevant (this is an article he pointed to):

Only 36 of the 2,380 delegates seated on the [RNC] convention floor are black, the lowest number since the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies began tracking diversity at political conventions 40 years ago. Each night, the overwhelmingly white audience watches a series of white politicians step to the lectern -- a visual reminder that no black Republican has served as a governor, U.S. senator or U.S. House member in the past six years.


36/2380 is 1.5%.
9.14.2008 5:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
I understand it's because of his father's position that the Vietnamese tortured him so heavily, hoping to exploit the propaganda value.


In his book McCain says the opposite of this.
9.14.2008 5:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Yes, Senator McCain went to the Naval Academy--but the military is one of the true meritocracies in America.


This is what McCain's biographer said about McCain's big promotion:

The assignment was controversial, some calling it favoritism, a sop to the famous son of a famous father and grandfather, since he had not first commanded a squadron, the usual career path.


From "John McCain, An American Odyssey," p. 123. The author is a Naval Academy graduate, Marine, and Vietnam vet. For some strange reason, McCain doesn't even mention that job in his official campaign bio, even though it's the only executive position he ever held. Speaking of thin resumes. McCain has also not signed SF-180, which means that the details of what he did on that job remain a secret.
9.14.2008 5:28pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
when Obama submits his transcripts from colleges as is public record with McCain


Where can I go to look at McCain's college transcripts?
9.14.2008 5:29pm
karl newman:
Kazinski's point could be incorrect. If Repubs are less likely to cross the line this election then in previous elections and that reason is because of race, then it is incorrect. Also, I know many families that are Repubs because of racial issues many years ago. It is true that neither party is free of racial issues. Either way - Lehman Bros is done as of tomorrow, economy is getting worse quickly, so McCain's campaign will now have a steeper hill to climb.
9.14.2008 5:29pm
Gilbert (mail):
You make McCain sound like a Colin Powell, who would definitely win in that situation. The thing is, neither Colin Powell, nor your hypothetical black moderate Republican, have so completely abandoned their moderate positions the way John McCain has. Just look at what he did on torture.
9.14.2008 5:35pm
one of many:
We have a winner of the thread:

Loki13:

This is amazing. The comment threads here have gotten so crazy with general nuttery that I can't even be sarcastic. The wildest and most ironic thing I could dream of would pass for an earnest observation at this point.


Wow. Loki..., wow. A winner.
9.14.2008 6:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"That's not true. Obama won the states with large black populations by wide margins. He also won a number of states with tiny black populations (Iowa among many others)."

You're right and here's why. White voter resistance to a black candidate is a non-linear function of the local black/white ratio where the voter lives. When that ratio is below about 5% the resistance is essentially zero. After approximately 30%, resistance increases dramatically. The key word here is "local." To understand the behavior of a whole state, you need to sum up a lot of "locals."

To really understand voting patterns you need a quantitative approach. While it does not treat racial effects, I recommend the recent book by Gelman, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do. Gelman is also the author of an excellent on Bayesian data analysis. He explains why some very rich states vote for Democrats, while as a whole, the higher the income of an American, the more likely he is to vote Republican.
9.14.2008 6:19pm
Asher (mail):
To really understand voting patterns you need a quantitative approach. While it does not treat racial effects, I recommend the recent book by Gelman, Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do.

A good book. Some good books that do focus on racial voting patterns are David Lublin's The Paradox of Representation and David Canon's Race, Redistricting, and Representation. Really all about congressional districting and race, but there's a ton of data in both about how voter race and candidate race correlate.
9.14.2008 6:26pm
Automatic Caution Door:
The few racists are probably not going to vote for a Democrat in either case.

You've never sat in a bar near a union plant, have you?
9.14.2008 6:29pm
matt b (mail):
to be clear, a white obama never would have been selected to deliver the 2004 dnc keynote address. he would have merely been another white senator. this address and, consequently, obama's race have catapulted him into the position of today.
9.14.2008 6:46pm
Jeff F.:
..."the result would have been different"

An interesting change of tense. The election hasn't happened yet, McCain is enjoying a little bump, and already we're talking like it's over.
9.14.2008 7:08pm
The Ace (mail):
Good times,


Party elders also believe the Obama camp is in denial about warnings from Democratic pollsters that his true standing is four to six points lower than that in published polls because of hidden racism from voters - something that would put him a long way behind Mr McCain.

The Sunday Telegraph has learned that senators, governors and union leaders who have experience of winning hard-fought races in swing states have been bombarding Obamas campaign headquarters with telephone calls offering advice. But many of those calls have not been returned.


The complete meltdown of liberal America on November 5th is going to be hysterical.
9.14.2008 8:26pm
The Ace (mail):
The idea that the Republican party would nominate a black man for President is too absurd too take seriously.

Hilarious.

I guess when you're one of history's losers, you hang your hat on things like this.

I guess you are also too young to remember Clinton's cabinet.
9.14.2008 8:29pm
The Ace (mail):
This is amazing. The comment threads here have gotten so crazy with general nuttery that I can't even be sarcastic.

Yes, because you can no longer parody the left.

Take jokebox for example. Never served, never would, yet happily here mocking McCain's service and proudly supporting a chickenhawk.
9.14.2008 8:33pm
Matt_T:
Currently, yes. Thurgood Marshall, though, ftw. And honestly, who would be more likely to nominate a black Supreme Court Justice in 2009: a Republican or Democrat?

Let's talk about Janice Rogers Brown.
9.14.2008 8:40pm
iambatman:
I am sure that a black Republican would stand an excellent chance of winning the Presidencies?

Now if only we had any black Republicans this flawless strategy could be employed!
9.14.2008 8:51pm
rrr (mail):
It seems to me that we look like idiots when we try to pigeonhole others' motives. For instance,the common theme here among those leaning left is that conservatives are racists. That's abundantly clear here, whether implied or overt. It's also clear that most conservatives assume that Obama is a socialist who only won because of his color. The fact is, both are wrong. Conservatives are not racists and many are anxious to elect a black CONSERVATIVE (imagine they would demand that!). And if Obama is so far left that he only won because of his color, how then did John Kerry win the nomination 4 years ago? Obama beat Hillary because he opposed the war more consistently than anyone else, especially Hillary. Implying poor motives to opponents is a sign we live in a bubble, at best. Whatever the case, it tells me more about you when you decide on my motives than it tells you about me.
9.14.2008 9:00pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

Someone earlier suggested Michael Steele. There's also J.C. Watts and Lynn Swann. Those are 3 off the top of my head.


But they're not black, because they're republicans.

Neither is Clarence Thomas.

Sarah Palin isn't a woman, because she's a republican.

Same case for Condoleezza Rice, and Phylis Schafley.


I've decided that when liberal friends ask me why I'm not voting for Obama, rather than tell the truth, that being: I find him shallow, inexperienced, rather spoiled, much less than lucid about his past, unqualifiied, and a jackass Marxist, I'm just going to say, "Because he's black."

I don't think I owe them anything more than that.
9.14.2008 9:08pm
EvilDave (mail):
Let us not forget that as soon as a Black man/woman leaves the Democrats plantation and becomes a Republican they instantly lose their status as Black.
Clarence Thomas, Rice, Michael Steele. According to the Democrats &MSM none of them are truly Black. They are instead considered "house niggers" or "race traitors".

So, we can assume that the MSM would do their best to lynch the Republican candidate and send a message to all other Blacks to stay in their place, as Democrats.
A successful Black Republican is a threat to Democrats.

Remember that Democrats were against emancipation, started the KKK, had the only recent serving member of Congress who used to be a member of the KKK, were for and created Jim Crow, voted against the 60s Civil Rights measures passed by the Republican Congress, etc. etc.
Also remember that Bush has had the largest number of Blacks in not only the Cabinet, but positions of power in general. How much credit does he get for that?

So, a Republican Presidential candidate would expect nowhere near the 90% Black voting expected for Obama (remember when Blacks vote Black that isn't racist, but white not voting Black is).
9.14.2008 9:08pm
EvilDave (mail):
Let us not forget that as soon as a Black man/woman leaves the Democrats plantation and becomes a Republican they instantly lose their status as Black.
Clarence Thomas, Rice, Michael Steele. According to the Democrats &MSM none of them are truly Black. They are instead considered "house niggers" or "race traitors".

So, we can assume that the MSM would do their best to lynch the Republican candidate and send a message to all other Blacks to stay in their place, as Democrats.
A successful Black Republican is a threat to Democrats.

Remember that Democrats were against emancipation, started the KKK, had the only recent serving member of Congress who used to be a member of the KKK, were for and created Jim Crow, voted against the 60s Civil Rights measures passed by the Republican Congress, etc. etc.
Also remember that Bush has had the largest number of Blacks in not only the Cabinet, but positions of power in general. How much credit does he get for that?

So, a Republican Presidential candidate would expect nowhere near the 90% Black voting expected for Obama (remember when Blacks vote Black that isn't racist, but white not voting Black is).
9.14.2008 9:08pm
TGGP (mail) (www):
I often disagree with DB and I'm no fan of McCain (or Obama for that matter, I won't vote for either) but this post I wish I had written myself. I just don't know how plausible it is that this bizarro Obama would have been accepted as a south-side community organizer. Alinsky actually was from back-of-the-yards, Obama needed his own skin color, marriage and membership in Trinity to pull it off (people were somewhat skeptical of him early on).
9.14.2008 9:17pm
The Ace (mail):
Better yet, imagine that one candidate, who again has never served in the military, mocked the other for not being able "to send an e-mail" when the other candidate has "injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for [him] to type."

Just imagine.
9.14.2008 9:23pm
RAH (mail):
I voted for Micahel Steel as Senator. I though he was more conservative than Erlich. But the Denocratic machine called him an Oreo. So the GOP is comfortable with black as as long as the have the same world view. I really like Jindal and he just needs to be seasoned. Color is not important to GOP, it is the Democrasta that are obsesssed with color.
9.14.2008 9:26pm
RAH (mail):
I would not vote for Powell since he is too socially liberal. That is why the GOP was not happy with McCain, he likes to shaft the GOP. His immigration bill was the worst and that is why he tanked last summer. The GOP is voting for Palin more than McCain because she is a person we have been looking at.

I wanted a Romney - Palin ticket and I suggested her as VP back in Febraury when Romney dropped out.
9.14.2008 9:30pm
lindaseebach (mail):
@jukeboxgrad:
In order to be a delegate to the Republican convention, you have to be a Republican, no? And 90 percent +/- of African-Americans vote Democratic -- not exactly the same as holding Democratic Party membership, but it probably means they aren't Republican Party members. So what percentage of Republican Party members are African-American? Your 1.5 percent is probably a bit too high to be random. On the other hand, the Democratic Party quota for African-American delegates is far lower than their membership in the party.
9.14.2008 9:37pm
P.C. (mail):
I did not read all the comments. I just wish to take issure with hypothesis: "Democratic candidate was white, but had a bio similar to Obama's: grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia, went to Ivy League schools, worked as a community organizer, then state legislator, then one-term Senator, all the while showing signs that, as co-blogger Jim Lindgren says, he has a very moderate personality, but is among the most left-wing candidates in personal ideology in modern history."

Your hypothesis is badly flawed half way through. A candidate, even a Democratic one, with Obama's Acorn background but was white or any other color, for instance if his name is something like Barack Oyama, will never able to make it as a legislator, state or federal. The only reason that Obama had a bio like his is because of his skin color! He will not be chosen as editor for Harvard Law Review or be hired by U. Chicago if his skin color is different than his.
9.14.2008 9:55pm
Ray (mail):
You have to remember that black people align themselves with the Democrats but if you interviewed the average black person, their social views would align completely with a generic republican platform. I think it is only a matter of time before younger blacks begin to question why they are so loyal to a party that takes their votes for granted without representing their worldview.

Best comment of the thread. That's pretty much the thought process among my circle of friends; overwhelmingly middle class college educated, church going social conservatives, strong on national defense, feel like the Dems haven't done anything for them since the sixties, will never vote Republican because they're acutely aware of the "fuck 'em" branch of the GOP.

And the thing is, those people are right, from certain prospective. When politics is a business the worth of a voting block is the sum of their demographic weight and the cost of acquistion of their votes. Black votes don't swing and they're no longer the largest minority, so the cost is inordinately high for what they can deliver, especially since there's a very real chance that what you'd need to do to get those votes would alienate other voting blocks. I'm willing to bet that a large portion of the GOP's lack of effort is the clear headed over/under on Dick Armey's "Bubba vote". Of course, that would mean that the GOP is purposely pandering to racists, but the other guy does too, right? But we have principles!

What are we supposed to do? We can't compromise principles, i.e. support liberal social programs.

You need to warn someone when you're going to make a joke like that. That is some funny stuff. The Bush administration spent money like drunken monkey sailors on shore leave, handed out entitlements, and went out of their way to be super nice to the religious right to the detriment of it's own ability to govern, and Republicans gave him two terms. They're showcasing the organized labor background of the current VP's spouse, and playing identity politics, victim, and populism gambits concurrently. The one truism of the Republican party is the pragmatism that they bring to the task of winning; they'll pander to anyone to get elected. Except black people.
9.14.2008 9:58pm
Lady on the Left:

Before a liberal seriously states that a minority Republican would not do well within our party, he ought to explain why President Bush assembled the most racially-diverse Cabinet in the history of this country, and why the only black man on the Supreme Court was put there by the aforementioned President's father.



Just so that you don't hear any crickets...

The first black man on the Supreme Court was Thurgood Marshall, and he was nominated by a Democrat, Lyndon Johnson in 1967. Over twenty years later, Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace Marshall.

The only woman currently on the Court is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and she was nominated by President Clinton, who also had quite a diverse cabinet. The first woman to sit on the Court, of course, was Sandra Day O'Connor, nominated by Reagan, and kudos to him for that. Too bad after the Miers nomination failed, Bush apparently couldn't find any other qualified women jurists to take O'Connor's seat.

The Democratic party was the first to place a woman on the ticket in the VP slot, Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. Over twenty years later, the Republicans have followed suit. The Democrats are also, obviously, the first party to have a woman be a major contender for president in the party primary.

According to the House website, there are currently 41 African-American members in the House of Representatives. 41 are Democrats. 0 are Republicans. There are 74 women, and 54 are Democrats, 20 Rehttp://www.volokh.com/posts/1221404192.shtml#publicans.

Barack Obama is currently the only black person in the US Senate. The only black woman to ever serve in the Senate, Carol Moseley Braun, was also a Democrat.

For the record, I think a black Republican candidate for president would do just fine. Colin Powell would have been unbeatable. But the idea that Bush's cabinet and Clarence Thomas somehow make the Republicans the party of diversity defies both history and common sense.
9.14.2008 10:15pm
JeanE (mail):
If John McCain was black and Barack Obama white, then McCain would win in a landslide and carry enough Republicans along on his coattails to return control of the Congress to the Republicans.
9.14.2008 10:26pm
whit:

Racism, or racial identification? There's a difference--or is anyone of color simply a racist by definition?

If a Chinese-American ran for President and the majority of Chinese-Americans voted for him or her, or a Latino ran for president and the majority of Latinos voted for him or her, would that be racism as well?



well, not in the case of latinos, because latino is not a race.

but that aside...

sure, it's racism. it may be a benign kind of racism, but if you treat somebody differently based on their race, that's racism.

if treating and perceiving somebody differently based on their race ISN'T racism, then the word has no meaning.

with that in mind, people in a minority who see a candidate for president ARE going to (in some #) treat/perceive that person as a more attractive candidate. that's just reality. i am sure there were plenty of americans of greek ancestry who voted for dukakis for that reason, irish who voted for kennedy for that reason, etc.

otoh, i doubt that nixon got a disproportionate %age of the (usually liberal) quaker vote :) but I have no statistics to back that up.
9.14.2008 10:32pm
Glenn W. Bowen (mail):

The first woman to sit on the Court, of course, was Sandra Day O'Connor, nominated by Reagan, and kudos to him for that.


That's really big of you. I being sincere.
9.14.2008 11:13pm
rarango (mail):
Byomtov: You are welcome to opinions, but I assure you with respect to academy appointments, you don't know squat. And spare me the "common sense" trope. You simply dont know what your are talking about but telling us what you believe. I am a graduate of of the USMA with a regular army appointment. I served on the faculty of the military academy for 4 years. I am well versed on the appointment procedures. Now please tell me what your expertise is.
9.14.2008 11:36pm
Pug (mail):
guilty white liberals who want to sport their non-racism by voting for a black man

I, for one, am completely sick of this kind of tripe. Maybe some white folks actually believe that George W. Bush is the worst president of their lifetime and think the Republicans should be fired and they don't feel guilty about anything.

Maybe they think that because we are bogged down in an endless war, home foreclosures are rampant and our financial institutions are collapsing, oil is $100 a barrel, the Federal budget defecit is the highest in history and food costs are skyrocketing. Those are a few reasons besides "white guilt" to vote out the Republican Party.
9.14.2008 11:38pm
theobromophile (www):
Lady on the Left: I did not say "ever on the Court." There is exactly one African-American Justice currently sitting on the Court, and that person was nominated by Bush 41. I find it odd that Clinton could not find another during his eight years in office.

Geraldine Ferraro did not have a prayer in heaven of becoming the nation's vice president. Given the landslide win in '84, one can barely call the Democrats a "major party" that year.

Now, pray tell, if the liberals are so woman-friendly, why the trashing of Hillary and Sarah?

Now, if you're going to talk about Clinton, I assume you're going to talk about the repeated allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and of his appointment to his Cabinet of a certain Lawrence H. Summers. You would want to paint a complete picture of what he has done to help women advance, I'm sure.
9.14.2008 11:41pm
Pug (mail):

Before a liberal seriously states that a minority Republican would not do well within our party, he ought to explain why President Bush assembled the most racially-diverse Cabinet in the history of this country, and why the only black man on the Supreme Court was put there by the aforementioned President's father.


The delegates to the Republican Party this year were 1.5% black. Don't tell me you didn't see the sea of white faces. Everybody did.

McCain may eek out a win this time, but the demographic trends in the United States do not bode well for Republicans long term.
9.14.2008 11:43pm
Pug (mail):

You have to remember that black people align themselves with the Democrats but if you interviewed the average black person, their social views would align completely with a generic republican platform.


Fantasize much? They "align themselves with Democrats" but their social views "align completely with the generic Republican platform". I've seen lots of things that don't make any sense and that is certainly one of them.
9.14.2008 11:49pm
Asher (mail):
There is exactly one African-American Justice currently sitting on the Court, and that person was nominated by Bush 41. I find it odd that Clinton could not find another during his eight years in office.

Geraldine Ferraro did not have a prayer in heaven of becoming the nation's vice president. Given the landslide win in '84, one can barely call the Democrats a "major party" that year.


What's odd about that? One out of nine is about proportional to their 13% share of the population. Not that the Court ought to proportionally represent demographics, but what was the need for a second? If anything, you could argue for a third woman or a first Hispanic.

As for '84, you forget that the race was tied after the convention and very close, if not tied, after the first debate. Then things went drastically south, but they were a major party at the time Mondale made the pick.
9.14.2008 11:50pm
Rich Rostrom (mail):
Pug: When polled on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, blacks consistently show "conservative" or "Republican" views. One of Obama's political allies in Chicago, State Sen. (and Rev.) James Meeks is notorious for homophobic rhetoric.
9.15.2008 1:48am
Dave N (mail):
Asher,

You are remembering the 1984 election differently than either Larry Sabato or I do. Sabato reports, "Mondale never came within close range of the President. Reagan continually led by at least ten points in the polls."

That's pretty much how I remember the race, too. 1980, on the other hand, did start out close and Reagan ended up clobbering Carter.
9.15.2008 2:00am
jgshapiro (mail):

It seems to me that the thing that makes race a factor at all isn't really the color of one's skin but the underlying assumptions of the ideology that one's race represents. Hence, Obama's left-leaning ideology reinforces those underlying assumptions in a way that they wouldn't if he happened to be more of a conservative. I think Obama's race, if a disadvantage at all, would, ironically, be an advantage for him if he was on the other side of the aisle.

I think this is correct, and is also true for any woman or minority candidate.

People "of color" and women are stereotyped as more liberal/radical than the mean - whether this is true or not. Conversely, Republicans are seen as more conservative/cautious than the mean. So combining a minority or woman candidate with the Republican brand would tend to cancel out these effects and produce the moderation (or at least the image of moderation) for which political independents search.

On this theory the best GOP candidate would actually be a minority or woman candidate, since their demographics would work (in voters' minds) to mitigate their ideology. And for the same reason, the best Democratic candidate would be a white, christian man. In contrast, nominating a white man to be the GOP presidential candidate and nominating a black man to be the Dem presidential candidate both double down on the relevant stereotypes - suggesting a very liberal Democrat and a very conservative Republican, whether or not this is the case.

It's hard to control for every factor, but I wonder if Biden would be doing better in the top spot on the Dem ticket than Obama? Biden is nowhere near as electrifying a speaker, but while his record is only a little more conservative than Obama's, he is likely to come across as a lot more moderate just by being white. [Biden has lifetime ADA/ACU ratings of 72/13 vs ratings of 90/8 for Obama.]
9.15.2008 3:04am
Asher (mail):
Reagan continually led by at least ten points in the polls.

"With Ferraro's selection, Mondale, down 16 points in the polls, briefly pulled even with Ronald Reagan."

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0707/4891.html
9.15.2008 4:08am
Paul A'Barge (mail):

Again, I'm not denying Kennedy's main point, that if Obama loses a close election, racism may well be a decisive factor.


Why are you not denying this mutt's main point? His point is beyond bogus and you know it. And, in your preliminary comments you shred his argument (rightfully).

Have the cojones to make a point and then stand by it, for goodness sake.
9.15.2008 7:51am
Martinus (mail) (www):
Obama's entire political career has been advanced because of racism. If he were a white guy, he wouldn't be where he is today.

If Obama wins, it will be because of racism. If he loses, it will be because of his Socialist ideology.
9.15.2008 9:08am
Franklin Drackman:
If you want to talk about Racism,West Virginia Senator Byrd, 3rd in line for the Presidency, voted against BOTH African-American nominees to the Supreme Court, and even used the "N" word on a Sunday Morning Talking Heads show.
9.15.2008 10:05am
The Ace (mail):
and she was nominated by President Clinton, who also had quite a diverse cabinet.

By "diverse" do you mean all white except for Ron Brown?
9.15.2008 11:08am
Dave N (mail):
Asher,

Your second statement (that Mondale "briefly pulled even with Reagan") is quite different from your earlier statement that it was "very close" after the first debate.

That said, I was deeply involved in campaign politics in 1984 and I personally never remember it being close--including when Mondale chose Ferraro. I could be wrong but the Sabato quote I provided is similar to my own recollection.
9.15.2008 11:14am
Angus:

and she was nominated by President Clinton, who also had quite a diverse cabinet.

By "diverse" do you mean all white except for Ron Brown?

You mean Sec. of Agriculture Mike Espy, Sec. of Energy Hazel O'Leary, and Sec. of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown weren't black? The things even a 60 google search can teach you...
9.15.2008 2:45pm
eyesay:
David Bernstein quotes Randy Kennedy quotes Jim Lindgren: Barack Obama "is among the most left-wing candidates in personal ideology in modern history."

Horseshit.

Not even among major-party presidential nominees, such as George McGovern, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Mondale.

Definitely not among major-party presidential candidates who didn't get nominated, including Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson, Morris Udall, Howard Dean, Shirley Chisholm, an numerous others who didn't win the Democratic nomination in the past 40 years.

All the more not among candidates for offices other than President. Obama is nowhere near as liberal as, say, Bernie Sanders, Barbara Boxer, Paul Wellstone, Barbara Lee, and hundreds of others who have served in the U.S. House and Senate.

If you start with a false premise, your conclusions are invalid.
9.15.2008 3:27pm
eyesay:
Kirk: "You're talking about Colin Powell and Eugene McCarthy, right? How'd it go for Eugene, again???"

Kirk, you're probably too young to remember what happened in 1968, so let me educate you. In 1968 there were primaries, but not nearly as many as today, and most of the delegates were selected by party insiders, who overwhelmingly preferred Hubert Humphrey to Gene McCarthy, in contrast to regular Democratic voters, whose preferences were the opposite. Gene McCarthy's number one campaign promise was to end U.S. military involvement in Viet Nam, and by November 1968, most Americans agreed with that. If McCarthy had won the Democratic nomination in 1968, he would have beat Richard Nixon effortlessly, with or without the third-party candidacy of George Wallace.

As a result of widespread dissatisfaction with the 1968 nomination process, Democrats reformed their nominating process in time for the 1972 election. If 1972 rules had prevailed in 1968, McCarthy would have beat Humphrey, and, if you want to throw in the possibility that RFK hadn't been assassinated, the nomination could have gone to either McCarthy or RFK, but not Humphrey, and either McCarthy or RFK would have trounced Nixon.

I'm not making this up. Opinion polls at the time revealed everything I've said here.
9.15.2008 3:44pm
Helene Edwards (mail):
Utterly amazing that not one poster mentioned economics as a driver of black voting preference. Apparently affluence (and insulation from real blacks) is so widespread on this board that everyone forgets that what blacks primarily look to the Democrats for is government jobs. The percentage of black people who work in the private sector is tiny. What black people fear about the Republican party is a shrinking of the public sector, either in absolute terms or in the availability of set-asides. Come on people, you're smarter than this.
9.15.2008 7:00pm
bumpkin (mail):
It's a complete waste of time to ask these sorts of questions.
9.15.2008 8:49pm
dreamtheater (mail):
I'm not so sure racism is a net negative for Obama. For one, I'd bet that a white guy with exactly Obama's credentials wouldn't have stood a chance against Hilary.
9.15.2008 9:23pm
Smokey:
eyesay:
"David Bernstein quotes Randy Kennedy quotes Jim Lindgren: Barack Obama 'is among the most left-wing candidates in personal ideology in modern history.'

Horseshit."
eyesay, you're a fool.
9.16.2008 5:04pm
Tim Fowler (www):
If everything else was the same, but McCain was black while Obama was white, I think McCain would very likely win easily.

Sure Obama loses some votes because of his race, but I think he gains more. The idea of having the 1st black American president is compelling. Even I (a Republican, who opposes race based preferences, and disagree with most of Obama's positions) find it very interesting. Many people who are not Republicans or conservatives, as positively energized by the idea.
9.16.2008 6:51pm
Benjamin Davis (mail):
Not having seen anyone pick up on this, the Society of American Law Teachers cites an NBER study on Affirmative Action that is here that (given pass propensities of folks here) I would imagine would be part of this postNew Study Contests Mismatch Theory.

What the study says is that the number of African-Americans in Law Schools and therefore number of African-Americans in the law would go down drastically without Affirmative Action. African-Americans would not be better off at less elite schools since total effect is to reduce the number of African-American law students by 50 per cent if no affirmative action.

I always say that 1) I never heard a person complain about having a chance to try 2) I await your strategies for integration of the various professions.

Best,
Ben
9.17.2008 12:22am