Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wealthy, educated blacks excited about Obama

Obama's black support appears to come most fervently from those like his half-brother (click on the graphic to see it more clearly):

As income, education, and unemployment levels rise, so do opinions of Obama among American blacks. If he were to take the Presidency, how would he be effected by the relative ambiguity with which lower class urban blacks feel for him? Will it further inflame the specter of he inevitably turning out to be no different from the Beethoven-listening, Shakespeare-reading Stanford graduate with whom he shares a father?

Taking a closer look at the graphic excerpted from a WSJ article earlier in the week, a couple of things emerge. The polling was done in October, before accusations of playing race and gender cards began being made by campaign surrogates, and when Obama was still the raceless candidate in media portrayals. So it may be that the raceless Obama--with weird facial features, a weird name, and the love of rich whites--didn't appear attractive to the real community. Now that he is, in clobbering Hillary by picking up 83% of the black vote in Nevada, inevitably being cast as the black candidate, those poll results might be too dated to rely on.

Yet this ambiguity among blacks is probably crucial for his candidacy to be viable at the national level. If he becomes the champion of black America, he doesn't stand much of a chance. He'll come up against the sobbering fact that blacks comprise just one-tenth of the voting electorate, and can guarantee him only the 3 electoral votes from DC that are already slated for whoever has a (D) by the name. Moderate white Americans (keeping in mind that 80% of votes will be cast by whites) will shy away from a campaign perceived to be fueled by racial politics. Hispanics, who voted for Hillary in Nevada at a rate of more than 2-to-1, will recoil as well.

Obama is aware of this. He hasn't been running his campaign in a way that suggests he is insecure in his level of black authenticity. To the contrary, he's treated it as a non-issue by, well, not alluding to it, let alone dwelling on the subject. It's certainly conceivable that even if this frenetic identity crisis still characterizes many of his thoughts, in order to become President and maintain a high approval rating while serving, he could squelch it entirely.

You have to wonder, too, if he hasn't realized since winning a Senate seat that his identity crisis is an enormous hinderance for his aspirations from this point forward. As a sharp leftist with a great voice* and a few exotic elements (name and ancestry), his most viable appeal is to affluent Democrats, black and white--the kind of people who gave him Iowa. He will never be able to outpander a Jesse Jackson or an Al Sharpton (and he might've been better off if the latter had made another run, ginning up the black community that would eventually fall in behind Obama once Sharpton bowed out, while redirecting the speculation on race politics via Obama to the overt conversation about race via Sharpton).

As Steve Sailer has said several times, though, it would be illuminating for him to speak to it directly.

* As I see it: Edwards' southern 'hick' sound combined with his leftism and failed '04 bid create a tired Jimmy Carter feel, Hillary screeches in a way that few married men can stand, Giuliani has a sissy lisp, Romney feels like a debate captain who is trying to pour out all the stats and facts rolling around in his head as quickly as possible, McCain sounds snide and stand-offish, and Ron Paul has a squeaky Elmer Fudd element in his voice. Obama, by contrast, is deep, powerful, and measured. Huckabee has the command of a successful Protestant pastor giving a sermon, and the only one who surpasses Obama.


al fin said...

Common people assume the most articulate candidate is the smartest and best. That is why they get taken by slick sales pitches time after time.

Obama is indeed the smoothest talker, followed by Huckabee. I trust both somewhat less far than I can throw them (and I could indeed throw them).

Democracy is deficient in that way--too many voters are easily impressed by a smooth line.

Obama is an Afrocentric crusader (closet Moses) who harbors a lifetime of resentment against the indifferent majority that dares to judge him.

Huckabee is much like Bill Clinton, but with a veneer of Baptist preacher. Perhaps Arkansas likes that type of politician. I certainly do not.

Audacious Epigone said...

Al Fin,

I agree with you. Please don't mistake my commmentary on the aesthetic qualities of the respective candidates' voices as a reflection of my support (or lack thereof) for them.

I'm inclined to think Obama would be worse than Hillary, and only McCain nauseates me more on the GOP side than Huckabee does.

Rob said...

Why doesn't Hillary get a voice coach? She would be 10X a better speaker if her voice weren't so bad. Surely the same consultant(a contraction of con and insult, by the way) who told Gore to wear earth tones could tell her to fix her voice.

Does her shrillness when she does angry appeal to women?

al fin said...

A.E.: I understand that you are not taken in by the smooth talkers. My disdain is aimed at the masses of people who get taken in time after time.

Rob makes a good point--Hillary's shrill anger may indeed strike a chord with many women. Particularly those of a feminist, male-hating variety, I would assume.

Judging who would be worst is very difficult at this point.

Fat Knowledge said...

Common people assume the most articulate candidate is the smartest and best. Democracy is deficient in that way--too many voters are easily impressed by a smooth line.

I wish it was like that. Then America would never have elected George Bush twice. :)


Is the breakdown of support for Obama by income and education for whites any different than that of blacks? Off hand they looked similar.

If Obama wins South Carolina, but only does so by decisively winning blacks and gets significantly less than 50% of white votes, do you think he becomes the "black candidate"? By which I mean he will have a harder time winning white and Hispanic voters in later primaries?

And if Bill and Hillary keep on the offensive against Obama, and Hillary wins the nomination, how likely do you think it is that blacks will decide not to vote for her?

Audacious Epigone said...


Quite simply, she's not trying to speak to us. I think you and AF are spot on.


Re: smooth lines, so long as they are not delivered in a way that comes off as being pedantic or haughty. That is Romney's 'problem' as far as delivery is concerned.

Re: Obama's white support, they are similar. In whitebread Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama cleaned Hillary's clock among the most affluent and educated voters.

Seems to me that it's almost unavoidable that Obama becomes that black candidate if he sweeps among blacks in SC but is outdone by Hillary among whites. Fortunately for Obama, Edwards is still in, because without him, Hillary would definitely take the white vote.

Re: the national election, I'd guess (and I'm going way beyond my limited knowledge here) it'll be a question of turnout, but I doubt it'll have much of a deleterious effect on Clinton's support. By that time, Obama will have clearly thrown his support behind her and blacks aren't going to the GOP any time, uh, ever.

eh said...

How many of them are there, actually? Wealthy, educated Blacks, I mean. As an election day demographic they must be insignificant.