Monday, January 28, 2008

Obama in the general

Reader nrglaw left a long and thoughtful comment on an earlier post about Barack Obama's prospects for the general election. So thoughtful is the reader's post, mes amis, that your blogstress has granted it this thread of its own, as well as a respectful, if less than thorough, refutation. From nrglaw:

There was a lot of focus on one statistic leading up to the SC primary, namely that Black Democrats represented 52% of the state's democrats. That statistic seems have gotten forgotten since the Obama victory. Its clearly still very relevant, however.

I understand that Obama won 80% (my son says 82) of black democratic voters, which would account for 40% out of the total of 55% he polled. In the 18-29 year old group, he took 49 -- a push at best. Overall, he polled only 25% of the white vote. Apparently, the Latino vote was not very significant, because it isn't even mentioned in any of the MSM coverage of the results. This is a group where Hillary has done well.

So I have two points. First, the racial demographic in SC is unusual -- other than the District of Columbia (at 60%), only two states have higher black populations by percentage -- MS and LA. The largest state to come close to the SC percentage is MD. Generally, other states don't even come close. Of these demographics, presidential victories are not made. I am not echoing Bill Clinton's Jesse Jackson remark, but these are simple numbers that suggest that the SC racial demographic is much more different from other states than most folks realize. The numbers spell problems for Obama in the General Election if he is not pulling much better from white voters overall, even he is taking 50-60% of the non-black 18-29 year old group.

Four examples make the point more clearly: in CA, pulling 80% of the total statewide black population would only add 5.6% to Obama's vote total, assuming equal turnout across the board; in NY, it adds 12.1%; in Ohio, 8%; and in MI, 11.2%. This is miles away from the 40% figure in SC.

My second point is only that the SC news will really not have much meaning until the FL primary, because there is a very good chance that Obama will suffer the same kind of crushing defeat there that he administered to Hillary in SC. A big defeat in FL (which is what the polls are predicting) will likely overshadow a big win in SC.

I am skeptical that he will get much of a pop in FL from his win in SC.
Much to ponder here, indeed. But your cybertrix offers these obervations:

* Florida - If Obama gets trounced there, it will be largely because, at the request of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), he is not campaigning there. Hillary Clinton made that same agreement with the DNC, but she appears to have broken it.

* Remember Iowa - Our reader seems to be basing her or his argument on the notion that the South Carolina results are the only results that matter, and that they really don't matter in terms of any future trend, because, unlike that in most future nomination contests or the general election, the electorate was largely African-American. Yet, Obama won Iowa handily, an all-white state. He came close in New Hampshire, another virtually all-white state. White people *will* vote for Obama. He's more than just "the black candidate," no matter how hard Bill Clinton tries to paint him that way.

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