A Sober Read

February 5, 2008 10:40 pm

Two readers make an uncomfortable but I think possibly insightful point about today’s results. Not sure I agree. There’s been too much of a rush of details and numbers we’re trying keep up with tonight to give it enough focus. But I want to put it in front of you.

First, TPM Reader JS

Just a quick trend to note: Obama seems to do well in states where there are either a huge number of black voters or virtually no black voters at all. In states with large urban populations, and ethnic suburban populations, he doesn’t do as well. He also doesn’t do as well in interior southern states. In other words, either a state needs to have white voters who have very little experience with ethnic or racial politics, or it needs to have an extremely large black population, in order to vote for Obama.

And TPM Reader BW

I’m a little surprised you haven’t figured out the role of the ethnic votes on tonight’s Democratic results.

I became involved in the NJ campaign after one of my friends told me that his extended Italian family were voting for Hillary cause she was preferable to the black guy. Their votes were being driven by race. We turned some of them around, but with others the racial enmity prevented any rational discussion.

MA also went to Hillary due to the organization of the Irish pols, according to MSNBC. Would sure like to see polling of ethnic votes in these states and NY.

I know that highly negative e-mails about Obama were also being sent around to my Jewish family. With Jewish voters you had the further complication of Israeli representatives coming out against Obama.

The disparity between the exit polls and actual results when an African-American has been running is known as the Bradley-effect. I notice your exit polls show Obama leading in NJ and MA. Why am I not

Not sure I agree with the last point. The exit polls were unweighted second wave exits. The real question is how the results compare to the final polls. And I’m not sure they’re that far off. One might argue that a more simple way to look at this is simply to say that Hillary dominated in the heterogeneous Northeast, where Hillary comes from. One might also say that this is only a more cynical way of pointing to the class/education division between Clinton and Obama voters that we’ve already noted in several of the contests. But I think there might be something to this. We’ll know more after we all have a chance to look closely at the exit polls.

Curious to hear your views.

Late Update: TPM Reader PN adds some thoughts …

A couple of thoughts about the racial/ethnic dynamic in the voting patterns that your other readers identified.

First of all, Clinton is doing very, very well among white women, particularly older white women. This is probably making the racial divide in the vote larger than it otherwise might be. I think the “pull” of voting for Clinton is at least as powerful than the “push” of being unwilling to vote for a black candidate. If we’re going to talk about how the African-American vote is keeping Obama in this race, we ought to talk about how women (who make up a disproportionate share of Democratic primary voters) are keeping Clinton in the race too.

In Massachusetts, Obama actually won white men 48%-49%. His showing among that demographic in New Jersey (39%) and Missouri (39%) was admittedly less impressive. But for Obama to take 40% of white male Democrats in Missouri is not a bad showing.

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