Monday, August 11, 2008

October is Gratuitious Racialization Month


Keeping with the littany of race-related articles on the presidential campaign, New York magazine has a series entitled Race: The Impossible Conversation. The series kicks off with a John Heilemann article that looks at why Obama's lead isn't bigger that a few points. He thinks race has something to do with it.
Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible, just possible, that Obama’s lead is being inhibited by the fact that he is, you know, black? “Of course it is,” says another prominent Republican operative. “It’s the thing that nobody wants to talk about, but it’s obviously a huge factor.
He doesn't provide much demographic evidence to support his point other than to note that Obama is under-performing among Whites. Perhaps this is all the evidence he needs. Currently Obama is running in the mid-thirties with this group. This is low even for Democrats. Heilemann points out how valuable this paleface (don't ask me why he uses this term) demographic:
The pollster Thom Riehle, who founded the AP/Ipsos survey and is now a partner at the firm RT Strategies, calculates that even if black turnout rises by 25 percent from 2004 (and Obama wins 92 percent), if Hispanic turnout holds steady (and Obama wins 60 percent of it, seven points better than John Kerry did), and the under-50 vote rises by 5 percent (and Obama wins half of young white voters), the Democrat would still need to win 40 percent of the overall paleface vote to prevail in November, one point less than Kerry garnered and two points less than Al Gore did in 2000.
First off, I think this pollster's estimates are way too conservative. I'm not sure why Hispanic voting would only "hold steady." Doesn't he know that Salsa has replaced Ketchup as a America's favorite condiment? If the youth vote only increases by 5% then Obama has a problem. Heilemann concludes from this that Obama is not going to be able to win by "changing the map." I suggest that it's his only choice. Particuarly because of this nugget:
In October, Obama’s former pastor, Wright, will publish a new book and hit the road to promote it, an occasion that might well place the topic of Obama’s blackness (along with his patriotism and his candor about what he heard in the pews in all those years at Trinity Church) squarely at the center of the national debate.
Thanks to our inability to place people in their specific historical and cultural context, October will be "gratuitous racialization" month. This suggests to me that Obama's bounce out of the convention better be a big one. He's going to need a bit of padding when Sean Hannity resumes his scholarly interest in Black Liberation Theology.

2 comments:

Black Political Analysis said...

Race is one reason why Obama's lead isn't bigger, but not the only reason. It's closer because McCain is the one Republican who can legitimately run away from the GOP. Conceding that America is worse off than it was in 2001 is smart politics by McCain and it makes it harder for Obama to pull away.

Also, is it just me or do you get the impression Jeremiah Wright actually doesn't want Obama to win?

Jose Marichal said...

Good point, but I think for a set of whites over 50, McCain is irrelevant. It's all about them getting past their particular framing of race.

And I have no idea what's up with Wright. He seems brilliant when he's talking about theology, but that performance at the National Press Club. Wow!