We've been digging through a lot of numbers over the last two days, mainly focusing on how voting patterns are affected by race. But through all this we need to remember the obvious, which is that the dynamics of a primary election are not the same as those of a general. So, for instance, if we assume for the sake of discussion that working class white Democrats in Pennsylvania are going to vote disproportionately for Clinton, what does that mean for the general if Obama's the nominee? Will the premium, as ugly a word as it may be in this context, of being a white candidate overcome party affiliation? Or more concretely, will a white voter who wouldn't vote for Obama over Clinton nevertheless vote Obama over McCain?
I think there's an instinctive desire not to be naive and say, 'no'. If they won't vote for a black candidate in the primary they won't vote for a black candidate in the general either.
But the truth is that we don't know. What's more, these calculations aren't figuring in gender either. There is no question that women are turning out in big numbers to vote for Hillary Clinton. If Obama's the nominee, how will the lack of that opposing draw on the other side affect him in a race against McCain?