Racial Feelings Are Not Black And White

'07 Redneck OlympicsIs He Voting For Obama?
Image by d r a k e via Flickr
Rascists For Obama

Thanks to Laura Rosen for pointing us to this Politico article on rascists voting for Obama. From Laura’s site, War and Piece

So a canvasser goes to a woman’s door in Washington, Pennsylvania. Knocks. Woman answers. Knocker asks who she’s planning to vote for. She isn’t sure, has to ask her husband who she’s voting for. Husband is off in another room watching some game. Canvasser hears him yell back, “We’re votin’ for the n***er!”

Woman turns back to canvasser, and says brightly and matter of factly: “We’re voting for the n***er.”

In this economy, racism is officially a luxury. …

Clicking through to Politico, we read:

“What you see is it’s perfectly possible to hold a negative view of at least one aspect of African-Americans and yet simultaneously prefer Obama,” said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Racial feelings are not as cut and dried — not as black and white — as people often say.”

Franklin explored those contradictions in a large, national survey taken in mid-September, when the Illinois Democratic senator’s rival, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), led in many polls and the nation’s economic woes had not yet produced a deep crisis. The poll asked voters whether they agreed with the statement that “African-Americans often use race as an excuse to justify wrongdoing.” About a fifth of white voters said they “strongly agreed.” Yet among those who agreed, 23 percent said they’d be supporting Obama.

“This result is reasonable if you believe that race is not as monolithic an effect as we might easily assume,” Franklin said, noting that 22 percent of those who “strongly disagreed” said they’d be supporting McCain.

Anecdotes from across the battlegrounds suggest that there’s a significant minority of prejudiced white voters who will swallow hard and vote for the black man.


The notion that there might be “racists for Obama,” as one Democrat called them, comes against the backdrop of a country whose white voters largely accept the notion of a black president.

“The economy is trumping racism,” said Kurt Schmoke, the dean of Howard University Law School and a former Baltimore mayor. “A lot of people who we might think wouldn’t vote their pocketbook because of race — now they are.”

“If you go to a white neighborhood in the suburbs and ask them, ‘How would you feel about a large black man kicking your door in,’ they would say, ‘That doesn’t sound good to me,’” said Democratic political consultant Paul Begala. “But if you say, ‘Your house is on fire, and the firefighter happens to be black,’ it’s a different situation.”

“The house is on fire, and one guy seems like he’s calm and confident and in charge, and that’s the only option,” he said.


…some argue that elements of Obama’s story and persona make him specifically acceptable to voters who hold broadly negative views of African-Americans.

“Not all whites associate the generic African-American with Obama,” said Ron Walters, a longtime student of race and politics and aide to the senior Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaigns. “They give him credit for having half a Caucasian ancestry, and give him credit for his education, and give him credit for his obvious ability to take complex subjects and parse them.”

The geography of racial conflict and tolerance has been a strong overlay of the electoral map. Obama has run better than past Democrats in prosperous states with little history of tension, such as Colorado and Iowa, and worse in working-class states in the Appalachian belt. His campaign has been structured around this dynamic and may actually have overestimated the number of white Democrats in the region unwilling to vote for him because of his race. Obama had ignored West Virginia, for instance, until a spate of positive polls prompted him to start advertising there this week.

Obama has also ignored Southern states with a history of deep racial division, from Arkansas to Mississippi, in favor of those that have seen an influx of new voters from the north — Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.

I am Jon, a white man born and raised in North Carolina, and nearly all my white and redneck friends are voting this year.

For Obama.

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