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  What’s the Real Racial Divide?
Parent(s) Race 
Last EditedWesternDem  Mar 13, 2008 04:51pm
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MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateThursday, March 13, 2008 10:00:00 PM UTC0:0

Clinton’s argument highlights the most vexing contrast of this Democratic campaign. Obama, fueled by overwhelming African-American support, has trounced Clinton in most big cities, while Clinton has pounded him in outlying areas. In Ohio, for instance, Obama won only the four largest urban areas in the state, while Clinton took 70 percent of the vote in smaller cities and towns; if you took only a passing glance at the electoral maps of states like Ohio, Missouri and Texas, you would think you were looking at one of those stark red-and-blue maps from recent general elections, with Obama cast as the Democrat and Clinton as the Republican. And yet, oddly, it is Obama who has emerged as the preferred candidate of sparsely populated rural states that are thought to be more conservative, and it is Clinton who has taken the larger, industrialized states. (Obama did carry his home state, Illinois, and neighboring Missouri, but he won the latter by only a single percentage point.) To put this simply, Obama wins in major urban areas but can’t seem to win in urbanized states, while Clinton wins in rural communities but consistently loses in rural states. Why?


The assumption has always been that a black candidate should perform worse among white voters in states with less racial diversity because those voters are supposedly less enlightened. In fact, the reverse has been true for Obama: in the overwhelmingly white states of Wisconsin and Vermont, for instance, he carried 54 and 60 percent of the white voters respectively, according to exit polls, while in New Jersey he won 31 percent and in Tennessee he won 26 percent. As some bloggers have shrewdly pointed out, Obama does best in areas that have either a large concentration of African-American voters or hardly any at all, but he struggles in places where the population is decidedly mixed.
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