Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Youth Pastor Watch | Fallen Idol »

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Obama Effect

posted by on May 14 at 9:24 AM

There is good news for white Democratic candidates. Blacks are not only voting for Obama but also runners who are associated with his party and moment in history.

The closely watched Mississippi congressional race that resulted in a terrible upset for the GOP—a Democratic candidate, Childers, took a safe Republican seat from a Republican—had this as one of its important factors:

In the end, tying the white Democrat to the black presidential candidate may have helped Mr. Childers more than it hurt him, as campaign aides reported heavy black turnout, heavier than in a vote three weeks ago when he came within 400 votes of winning.

“I like what Childers was saying: he was more truthful and down to earth,” said Mary Shelton, an African-American who had just voted for him at the Yalobusha County courthouse here.

And Mr. Childers’s association with the party that might nominate Mr. Obama didn’t hurt either. “We need a change, we really do,” Ms. Shelton said.

Obama has activated the black vote in a way that might help white candidates in tough races.

RSS icon Comments


Rah-rah-rah for Obama and everything, but ... isn't it sort of maybe a little bit racist that black voters favor Obama because he's black? We're all horrified by the white Virginians who favored Hillary because she's white.

Posted by mattymatt | May 14, 2008 9:44 AM

@1, No. As I've said before, white voters voting on the basis of race are voting against a black candidate. Black voters voting on the basis of race are voting FOR a black candidate. The former is exclusionary and racist. The latter is aspiring and hopeful.

White people in WV voting on the basis of race didn't vote for Clinton because she's white, they voted for her because Obama is black. Were he white, there would likely have been a different outcome.

Posted by cmaceachen | May 14, 2008 9:59 AM

Well said. Also, I don't think blacks are voting for Obama just because he's black. Remember, six months ago, it was a commonplace that blacks WOULDN'T vote for Obama because he WASN'T black, not black like them (West African slave descendent), but would prefer Clinton, whose husband was always referred to as "our first black president".

Who turned that upside down? Clinton, by deliberately attacking black voters to win white approval.

And Obama, by being for the most part above the fray, dignified, not interested in playing the same old racial poker game that blacks feel trapped by just as much as whites. He ARTICULATES THEIR DESIRES, instead of appealing to their clan instincts. Because their desires are the same as sensible white voters: good policy, decent representation, pride in government.

Read Mary Shelton's remarks again: she's not talking about black and white. She's talking about VOTING FOR A WHITE MAN who she feels represents her views. You think Clinton's supporters in West Virginia would vote for a black man in a similar situation? Not a freaking chance.

Clinton's campaign is ALL about race at this point. It's all she has left. Obama's campaign isn't about race at all -- and that's why black voters are responding. Black voters want to be American voters just like whites, not "black voters" -- that taken-for-granted bloc that does whatever they're told by their leaders. Those days are over. Al Sharpton's style only works on white people now.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 10:13 AM

By voting FOR the black guy, aren't they also voting AGAINST the white lady? I guess the black racists' intentions are different, for whatever that's worth; but the effect is still to deny someone an opportunity based on race. If Hillary was black, they might've voted for her; but since she's white, they didn't.

Posted by mattymatt | May 14, 2008 10:15 AM

Fnarf, as always, puts it all in perspective. Thanks -- that explanation (that to blacks, Obama represents positions of interest, not just A Fellow Black Guy) makes a lot more sense than the black racism that I've been worrying about.

Posted by mattymatt | May 14, 2008 10:20 AM

This is all well and good, but who's going to appeal to the racist white redneck vote?

Posted by AMB | May 14, 2008 10:37 AM

I'm sure the mailers sent out accusing the GOP candidate of being a racist had nothing to do with the high African American turnout.

Posted by Cato | May 14, 2008 10:46 AM

The best way to show that Mississippi blacks aren't voting for other blacks because they're black is to point out that the guy who just won there, Travis Childers, IS NOT BLACK. HE IS A WHITE MAN. Blacks voting for whites -- it may be something, but it's NOT racism.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 11:17 AM

Nice try, Fnarf, but you have absolutely no clue why black people in Mississippi are voting for Obama. Or why people in West Virginia are voting against him. How many of them have you talked to lately? Thank you for playing Slog.

Posted by Uncle Tom | May 14, 2008 1:10 PM

Those who think that blacks unhesitatingly vote for the black candidate might do well to look at how many of them voted for Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley-Braun in 2004.

Posted by tsm | May 14, 2008 1:31 PM

Lifetime Slog score: Fnarf 1,001,032; Uncle Tom -4. Nice try.

Posted by Fnarf | May 14, 2008 3:07 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).