Sunday, January 27, 2008

Obama becomes Black Candidate in South Carolina

All the media reports and news cycles have made mention of the most important campaign 'story' out of the South Carolina Democratic primary--blacks (comprising more than half of the state's electorate for this contest) overwhelmingly voted for Obama, at rates almost as high as blacks vote for Democratic candidates and against Republican candidates in general elections.

Obama took just under four-fifths of blacks. He again won as strongly among black females as he did among black males. Whites voted against Obama nearly as heavily as blacks voted for him--he took 24% of that vote.

While the media stories are generally portraying this as a big win for him, it seems to me that it's the end of his Presidential run. He's become the black candidate, and if that needs reiteration, Obama's relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright has now been 'publicly' exposed (nearly a year after Steve Sailer began released his exposition of Obama's past) and will be readily pointed to by Clinton surrogates.

It's tiresome conjecture over the intent, I know, but Hillary's 'controversial' MLK comment now looks tactically to be quite sound.

Outside of that, identity politics reigned once more. Edwards, who only garnered 18% of the total vote, easily won among white males (45% to Hillary's 28% and Obama's 27%). Hillary won among white women, and of course Obama cleaned up the black vote.

Also of interest in the exit polling is how Edwards was again, in spite of his 'two Americas' theme, the patrician's candidate. The percentage of each candidate's supporters who came from families with incomes of $50,000+ (just under half of the total electorate):


Edwards' supporters were also more likely to have been college graduates than either Obama's or Hillary's were.

In contrast to his performance in the whitebread states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama actually did slightly worse as incomes increased. Unfortunately, blacks were not broken down by income group, but as more than 80% of Obama's supporters were non-white, the trend proxies pretty well for how he did among blacks at various levels of income (I suspect among whites Obama supporters were again better off financially than at least Hillary's, which probably means that among blacks his support was at about 80% irrespective of income level). It appears that, contrary to the uncertainty less affluent blacks felt towards him as recently as a couple of months ago, members of the community from across the economic spectrum stand behind the (unwillingly) black candidate.

Obama's tragedy is that, in becoming the bona fide representative of black America, he has all but forfeited his chance at the '08 Presidency. One can only wonder how this unfolding sequence will affect him.


Anonymous said...

I imagine he must be looking at those trends and cursing.

To take such a low percentage of the white vote is not a good sign, and he cannot really count on getting many votes from the Hispanic end of the electorate, although they have not had a large percentage of voters, historically (perhaps 5% overall).

al fin said...

Southern states will show different voting patterns than northern, western, and midwestern states.

Even so, the more Obama is painted into the "black candidate" corner, the worse his prospects will be in the general election.

Of course, Obama is an afrocentric eccentric, which anyone can see by noting who his closest mentor and advisor is, and by reading his 1995 book "Dreams of My Father."

He has a great voice for sounding reasonable and inclusive, but behind the voice is a mind that lives in more confined ghettos.

Anonymous said...

As whites gravitate toward the Republican party, it all but guarantees more national Democratic elections will be going to minorities in the Democratic party.

After the boomers start dying out, how man white democrats will be left as a percentage of that party? Not alot it seems. They will lurch leftwards further still.

keypusher said...

Evidently he wasn't the black candidate in Iowa or New Hampshire, or he would have gotten very few votes at all. As al fin says, southern voting patterns are different. My mother (a South Carolina Democrat) describes the state democratic party as a "black party" because so many whites have gone over to the Republicans. (She voted for Edwards.)

Audacious Epigone said...


I agree. The black label is 'divisive'. That is why there is only one (half) black Senator, but almost 10% of the House is black. It wins in majority-black locales. It loses everywhere else.

Al Fin,

I wonder if what you say will be propagated by Clinton surrogates. I don't think they'll need to 'dip' to that level, but it's probably the trump card if needed.


Right. And a much of black America was ambiguous towards Barack during those campaigns (see this post). That's changing against Obama's will. Clearly he is trying to fight the characterization, and the media (listening to Meet the Press I was stunned out how pro-Obama/anti-Hillary the entire panel was) are largely aiding that effort. But I don't see how that changes what happens in Nevada or South Carolina.

Re: Edwards, the sooner he drops out, the better for Hillary, even if he endorses Obama (which he probably will). Seems to me he's hanging around in hopes of a virtual Obama-Hillary tie, so he (and his delegates) become crucial.

Audacious Epigone said...

Sorry, here's that post.

Audacious Epigone said...


Agreed. Married whites with mortgages and kids vote Democratic less and less as time goes on. But whites are still 80% of the electorate, so that time will come later than purely demographics would make it seem.

Fat Knowledge said...

You know, I was thinking along these lines prior to the election (that he becomes the black candidate and unelectable), but now I am not so sure.

A couple of points in refutation of this theory.

1) Obama carried 52% of the under 30 non-white demographic.

2) His speech was great, and anyone listening to it would have a hard time labeling him as the 'black candidate'. I am no fan of unabashed nationalism, but when the crowd started cheering 'USA, USA', for some reason it worked for me. And when you look at the crowd, it is all races and all ages.

3) Most of the media coverage I saw on it went with the headline of 'Obama wins big' and really didn't mention the racial breakdown of the vote at all. I am not sure the average viewer realized the racial reason for his victory.

4) I think the Clintons' attempt to make him the 'black candidate' might actually be backfiring. I think Democratic voters and bloggers are being turned of by the Clintons' tactics. Ted Kennedy is now supporting Obama because of what they did (according to Drudge: "Kennedy upset over attempts by Clinton campaign to highlight Obama's race and distortions of statements"), and I think that is a big deal.

I also think the press doesn't like what the Clintons have done and you can expect pro-Obama coverage for a while (as you noted on Meet the Press).

So, I am not counting Obama out yet.

Oh, and did you catch the male/female breakdown? 61-39% female to male. That is amazing to me. Unmarried women outnumbered unmarried men 2-1! And the thing I don't get is that on the Republican side it 51-49 male to female. Where did all these extra women come from on the Democratic side? Or maybe I should be asking where are the missing men? I can't tell if this has a racial angle to it, but I don't think so.

Audacious Epigone said...


We'll see for sure soon enough :)

Obama carried 52% of the under 30 non-black demographic.

But favorites of the young crowd on both sides rarely end up banning out, at least in recent times (Howard Dean, Ron Paul, etc). The numbers just aren't there. Hillary has in every state gotten better as people have gotten older.

Re: your 3rd point--are you sure? I haven't come across a print article yet that doesn't mention how he fared among blacks, usually in the first few paragraphs.

Re: the media favoritism, it has little to do with what the Clintons have done. The major media predictably favors the black man with the exotic name and exotic past over the white woman from the upper midwest.

Re: the age disparity, black males are not very politically active. There were nearly twice as many black females as black males who voted in the SC primary.

That explains it almost entirely. If the vote was all white in South Carolina (extrapolating from the white exit poll figures), it would have been a 59%-41%, female advantage. Iowa and New Hampshire were both 57%-43%.

The GOP seems a little surprising, but I presume that in states with large non-white populations, the white male/white female partisan split isn't as pronounced, and that's what we're seeing a little of. Not sure though.

Fat Knowledge said...

Yeah, the California polls came out today and Obama was behind by like 17 points, so that is not looking good for him at the moment.

I still think that he is more than just the black candidate in that he also gets the young and the educated/higher income voters. Whether this will be enough or whether he can extend it, we will see.

The major media predictably favors the black man with the exotic name and exotic past over the white woman from the upper midwest.

I assume you are basing that on all the other political races that have had featured a black man with an exotic name and a white woman from the upper midwest. :)

I guess I was thinking about the NY Times columnists of Dowd, Rich, and Kristoff who have all written pro-Obama/anti-Clinton columns lately. I am kind of amazed that there is only one NY Times columnist supporting Hillary: Krugman.

As for the gender gap, I ran the numbers and there were 1.4 white women per white man, 1.75 black women per black man, 1.23 married women per man and 2.3 unmarried women per man. So, race explains part but not all.

Oh, and one more scenario to throw at you. What if Edwards stays in the race the whole way and then throws his delegates to Obama in exchange for the attorney general spot. Do you think a Obama-Edwards primary "ticket" would be able to beat Hillary?

It still isn't clear to me if Edwards voters would go to Hillary or Obama, but if he stays in, I think he could be able to take like 15% of the votes and I think that would be enough to make the difference.

Al Fin said...

The "afrocentric factor" of Obama's past and present will loom very large, if his candidacy continues to threaten the Clintons' plans.

The Clintons want to be able to use black insularity and paranoia (afrocentrism) later on against the Republicans. They don't want to come out against afrocentrism now if they do not have to.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al Fin,

Very well put.


The married/unmarried rate is influenced by race though, since blacks are about twice as likely to be unmarried than whites are. When I pointed to the white gap only, I meant to indicate that it was virtually the same as the gender gap on the Democratic side in other states.

Re: the NYT, it's interesting that the columnists oppose her but the paper's op/ed board endorsed her.

Re: Edwards, I suppose it'll depend on whether or not Obama is still competitive with Hillary after next Tuesday. I'm surprised she doesn't make a similar offer, because if Edwards got behind her, that would certainly end it.