How many Americans are there, now, who would vote for a Dem but never for a black?

The assumption that there are many seems to underly the “a black can’t win” argument WRT Obama’s presidential candidacy. But is it true? In the '60s, it was the Dems who gave us the Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights Act, school integration through busing, and affirmative action. Many white Southern voters reacted by switching over to the Pubs, in such numbers that the South is now the party’s main vote base. When LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act, he famously declared, “We [the Democrats] have lost the South for a generation.”

So why would Obama’s race cost him any votes? The voters who still care about that would not have voted for a white Dem either – would they?

IMHO, it doesn’t seem like his race is affecting the votes of democrats so much as the perception of how his race might affect others’ votes. IOW, while people seem like they would be fine voting for a black male for president, they don’t think anyone else would.

Maybe I’m missing something, though.

Bill Clinton won Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, and West Virginia. Neither Kerry or Gore could win a single one of those. Do you think a black man will succeed where they failed?

Additionally, a problem to consider is the energizing effect the possibility of a black man becoming president would have on the Republican base. At this point, though, I think the effect would actually be higher if Mrs. Clinton were to run.

I must have missed something. Are most Republicans racist?


I think it’s possible. Kerry and Gore had miscellaneous problems throughout all of the states that, I think, Obama doesn’t have. A major one being: he appears to be a living, breathing human being. :stuck_out_tongue:

I admit that I may just be naive, and overly hopeful, but I really believe this.

I think BG’s point is the inverse, that after the Civil Rights Act et al. most racists became Republican.

Yes. (Though some got there by a way of a detour through George Wallace’s American Independent Party.)

Would it not be more accurate to say that Bush senior lost those states?

Why if Clinton a white Dem won them and then two successive white dems lost them do you think it impossible for Obama to win them? If it’s race then you haven’t proved your point. Certainly there will be a lot of politics in play and the Dem no matter who he/she is is going to have their work cut out but the GOP have lost them before.

Do you actually think that people are going to honestly answer this question? Pollsters will ask and everyone will give the right answer. But there aren’t any pollsters in the voting booth.

In terms of bigotry, I’d guess it goes the other way. Blacks are bigoted against Republicans. Sorry, no cite, just something I hear from time to time.

With good reason. But it’s irrelevant to the OP, as you know.

In order to answer this question, I think it might be useful to explore what specifically are the biases associated with black skin that are in operation among possible Democratic voters.

I don’t think we’re really talking about overt racism here. IMHO, very few Democrats are going to walk into the polls and decide that they just can’t vote for a guy because he’s black. Instead, implicit racist associations will affect their judgment. That means that different black candidates will experience that racism differently, depending on the extent to which they are vulnerable to those stereotypes. A black Dubya (there’s a thought!) would be more subject to biases about intelligence than Obama. I don’t know enough about the subject, but my understanding is that research in this area has identified some discrete set of common stereotypical/implicit associations. To which of those is Obama most vulnerable (or vulnerable at all)?

I don’t know. I was only a kid at the time and I am not versed in the nuances of the 1992 and 1996 elections. I suppose you could say Perot allowed Clinton to win in 1992. However, those same states voted for Clinton again in 1996 and Perot’s influence was dead by that time.

Yes, I think it’s fair to say the Dems have their work cut out. I also think it’s fair to think that the South will be the most difficult area of the country for the Dems to win.

Now, if one believes there are a lot of racist Republicans in the South then it follows that a black Dem will have even more difficulty running than a white Dem. Thus, the answer to:

…is that, presumably, racist Southerners did vote for Clinton in 1996. That is, if you think there are a lot of racists in the South.

I’m guessing not quite as many as would vote for a black but never a Republican. Obama’s got the black vote sewn up (if he is nominated) in a way that Condi Rice never could. Colin Powell isn’t running, but I expect he would suffer from the McCain effect - Dems could support him in theory, as long as he is not really running, but the instant he would try to appeal to Republicans in any substantive way, he would get called an Uncle Tom and repudiated by the yellow dog Dems, race pimps, and power brokers in the Democratic party.

Liberals are wont to over-estimate the amount of racism in the Republican ranks, and are certainly going to do so if Obama gets the nod - it is a way of putting him above criticism (“You’re only calling him inexperienced because you don’t like black people! Racist!”). I wouldn’t be surprised if they try the same thing with sexism if Hilary gets picked - it depends on how much they can ignore it when people laugh at them for trying it. (“You’re only saying she voted in favor of the Iraq invasion because you don’t like strong women!”) Etc.

It’s more like picking an excuse in advance, ISTM, but Dems don’t often catch on that it is hard to get people to vote for your side by calling them names if they don’t. Certainly there is some racism, on both sides and aimed at all races, but it is unrealistic to say that resistance to voting for a first-term Senator with no governing experience has to be because you don’t like black people. Genuine racists don’t care, and the vast majority who vote for reasons of their own tend to react badly to having their motives impugned.

Jim Crow and official racism has been dead for forty years in the US. If you are going to say that refusal to vote for a black person has to be due to racism, you are going to have to deal with those who point out that blacks vote for other blacks over 90% of the time. And you will have to explain that that’s not racist - to people who aren’t preconditioned to listen out of white, middle-class guilt.


I’m not sure how you’re defining “official racism,” but by nearly any definition this is false. The courts are still plenty busy dealing with racist housing laws, racist government hiring practices, and still trying to desegregate schools. You might be interested to know that schools are more segregated now than at any time after 1968. Indeed, it is claims like this about racism having been eradicated that undermine claims by Republicans that racism is not a big problem in their party.

Black people are underrepresented in government. Many people believe that it is important to have a proportional number of representatives of your race in government. Therefore, they vote for members of that race disproportionately. Do you understand why that rationale doesn’t apply to white people? Did I lose you there because you’re not preconditioned to listen out of white, middle-class guilt?

Huh? Who could…ohhh, it’s Shodan. Nevermind.

To answer the OP, pretty few, I expect. Obama ran strong in downstate Illinois when he was elected U.S. Senator in '04, winning in many areas where no one expected a black Dem to do well (granted, it was against fatally-weakened candidates in both the Dem primary and the general election). I think most Dems nowadays want to win and, if Obama gets the nomination, they’ll vote for him. His early fundraising reports indicate he has even broader support than Hillary, from what I’ve read. I haven’t decided yet whether he’s “my guy” for '08, but so far I’d say he’s doing pretty well for himself.

A related thread (my post is on p. 2, #78):

I think your caveat about the weak opposition swallows the point. Obama got lucky in the primary because of the abuse allegations, and who can’t beat Alan Keyes?

I’d be curious to know though what it is about down-state Illinois that would make people think that the region is predisposed to vote for a black pub over a black dem (you seem to be suggesting something other than party affiliation).

I’d expect (historically more conservative) downstate Illinoisans to stay home rather than choose between a black Dem and a black Republican. But turnout didn’t drop in that race, from all I’ve read - it may actually have gone up.