September 15, 2008


Race -- and the race for Ohio: Center-stage again, the Ohio contest between Obama and McCain may pivot on the impossible-to-handicap racial factor. (Walter Shapiro, Sep. 15, 2008, Salon)

What shapes campaign discussions -- both on- and off-the-record with leading Democrats and Republicans alike in this tightly knotted industrial state -- is uncertainty over the electoral impact of Barack Obama's race. No one has the hubris to try to quantify the racial factor (unlike amateur political mavens who exude ill-informed certainty) and no one dismisses the chances of Obama winning Ohio's 20 electoral votes. But with early voting scheduled to begin here Sept. 30 (another first for Ohio), there is an undercurrent of nervousness among Democrats about the party's great experiment in nominating Obama. [...]

In 2004, John Kerry came within 118,000 votes of winning Ohio and the White House. But while Ohio may be a swing state, it also shows unusual internal political stability, with only two counties changing their party allegiance from the 2000 to 2004 presidential elections. "The biggest difference between the Obama campaign and Kerry in 2004 is race," said Mike Curtin, an Ohio political expert who recently stepped down as the associate publisher of the Columbus Dispatch and continues as a consultant to the paper. "You can't avoid it, since Hillary Clinton trounced Obama here." While Clinton won the March 4 Ohio Democratic primary by a 53-to-45-percent margin, she overwhelmed Obama among white voters by 64 to 34 percent, according to exit polls. [...]

A striking feature of the University of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll, which was released Friday, was that while McCain is winning the support of 90 percent of Republican voters, Obama is only picking up 82 percent of the Democrats. These differing levels of party loyalty -- which might (note the conditional tense) be attributed to Palin for the Republicans and Obama's African-American heritage on the Democratic side -- partly explain why McCain leads 48 to 44 percent in the survey.

...isn't the most noteworthy thing here that the racism Democrats are worried about tends to show up almost entirely within their party?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2008 2:39 PM
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