A “Race Chasm”?


Earlier we discussed the question of why Barack Obama appears to do better in some red states than in some purple states — at least in their Democratic primaries. More specifically, we looked at the question of whether the pattern doesn’t show Obama doing well in states with small and large black populations but not in those states in the middle — with black populations roughly in line with the national average, which is just over 12%. It turns out that David Sirota makes a strong argument for this pattern over at TPMCafe today. And he even backs it up with a chart that suggests a pretty strong correlation.

Obama does well in states with under 5% black population and over 15%. Between those two percentages, though, his record in Democratic primaries is poor.

I have some questions about David’s methodology. He looks at 33 of the 42 states that have voted so far, setting aside the three states where one candidate arguably had a home state advantage, 2 states where John Edwards played a substantial role, one state (Michigan) where only Clinton was on the ballot, and four states where a substantial Hispanic population complicated the racial landscape.

I want to take a closer look at whether excluding those states covers over any complexities or contradictions in the argument. But on its face the pattern is striking. And his argument is definitely worth your time to read.