Friday, January 25, 2008

South Carolina Dems Dividing Along Racial Lines

In what may not be a good trend for Barack Obama in the long run, Democratic voters in South Carolina are dividing along racial lines, according to a poll released by the McClathy News Service and MSNBC. McClatchy's Washington Bureau reports that the poll finds African-American Democrats going for an Obama candidacy by a 59 to 25% margin over Clinton. Clinton, however, is getting support from white Democrats by 36 to 10% while Edwards is getting 40% of white Democrats. This means that 76% of white Democrats are backing a white candidate over Obama.

This trend will help Obama in states like Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, where African-American voters are a big factor in a Democratic primary. It is hard to see, however, how this trend helps him in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania where African-American Democrats are important, but probably do not constitute a majority of likely Democratic voters.

It may be that in states where there is a substantial African-American vote, reports that Obama is doing very well among African-Americans voters actually depresses his white vote by causing a reaction among white voters. This may be especially true in southern states which have a history of segregation and discrimination.

Obama needs to get more white voters outside the south to get the Democratic nomination. It is hard for him to get such votes, though, if his message of hope and change are not heard through the acrimony of a bitterly contested Democratic nomination battle.

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