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Thursday, 10 April 2008
Obama and the X-Factor of Race
Topic: Blog Tours

We continue our look ino the words of Earl Hutchinson.  This exerpt is from the book The Ethnic Presidency.  Comments anyone??  Opinions?

Obama and the X-Factor of Race

Despite Obama's brash talk about not running from his racial heritage, that history loomed as the X factor in his campaign. It had to be overcome for him to have any real shot at the big prize. One small but troubling sign that race wouldn't magically disappear was the personal death threats that flooded in to his campaign. Obama had the dubious distinction of being the earliest presidential contender to be assigned secret service protection on the campaign trail. Still, there were hopeful signs that public attitudes might be changing. In an early cover story on him months before he declared his candidacy, Time Magazine in October 2006 anointed him as the new face of the Democrats. It was a good label. Obama was telegenic, articulate, and a good campaigner who could easily raise millions of dollars.

Yet, the near unanimous backing that whites gave to the notion of voting for a black candidate for president also deserved to be put to a political polygraph test to see how much truth there was to it. There were outsized doubts about it.

Start with the question: "Would you vote for a black candidate for president?" It's a direct question, and to flatly say no to it makes one sound like a bigot, and in the era of verbal racial correctness (ask Don Imus), it's simply not fashionable to come off to pollsters sounding like one. That's hardly the only measure of a respondent's veracity. In a 2006 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, a Yale political economist found that white Republicans are 25 percentage points more likely to cross over and vote for a Democratic senatorial candidate against a black Republican foe. The study also found that in the near twenty year stretch from 1982 to 2000, when the GOP candidate was black, the greater majority of white independent voters backed the white candidate.

Republicans and independents weren't the only ones guilty of dubious Election Day color-blindness. Many Democrats were too. In House races, the study found that Democrats were nearly 40 percent less likely to back a black Democratic candidate than a white Democrat.

For much more information about Earl Ofari Hutchinson and The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Affects the Race to the White House, visit his blog blitz homepage - To order your copy of the Ethnic Presidency, visit or

Posted by joyceanthony at 1:50 AM EDT
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