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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Race not a factor in New Hampshire vote?

John Judis is out with a piece at The New Republic attempting to debunk the notion that even a small part of the reason for the Obama loss in New Hampshire might be attributed to certain whites telling pollsters one thing and then voting differently (see link below). He may or may not be right, and I eagerly await Andrew Kohut's promised look inside the numbers.

But I find it quite touching -- and naive -- that so many pundits, particularly on the left, feel it's ridiculous to suggest that race might still be a key factor when Americans go to the polls. The only way you could claim that there is no race-tinged voting today would be to hold that racism has been completely wiped out in America. Does anyone seriously believe that? There's no way it could not have been a factor at all in nearly all-white New Hampshire, or everywhere else where votes are cast in private -- especially with a black man having a real shot at becoming president. It's just a matter of the size of it: very modest or fairly significant? Judis feels (really, guesses) it was very modest, at most.

It's fine to say that a flood of women flocked to Hillary's side on the final day, but do you really believe very few of them had a racist bone in their bodies? Yet Judis writes that the "explosive claim" that more than a few voters in New Hampshire are not ready for a black president "deserves to have been backed up by some kind of evidence." But what airtight evidence could possibly prove what crucial factors really went into anyone's very private, and no doubt, mixed emotions on Election Day? I'll settle for history and logic, suggesting that racial bias is still real, for now, and as such has to play a role.

By the same token, does anyone really believe that some men (or for that, matter, their wives) simply won't vote for a woman as president right now? In fact, the Obama-Clinton "bias" vote may have simply canceled each other out in New Hampshire. If Hillary makes the finals this fall will anyone then claim that gender bias is a total non-factor? If she loses to, say, McCain by 2% will you really feel that it played no role? I'm glad we've come a long way, baby, but we have a ways to go.

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