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The Ugly Truth About New Hampshire

In the aftermath of the New Hampshire primary one ugly truth shines through. Race is clearly still a serious problem for the Democratic Party and for many Democratic and independent voters in New Hampshire and perhaps nationwide.

How can I say such a terrible thing? It’s easy. Race is the most evident explanation for the disparity between all of the advance polling, the exit polls, and the actual results of the election. Virtually every poll prior to the election showed Barack Obama with a strong lead over Hillary Clinton. Even Clinton’s own campaign was predicting an 11 point loss to Obama. Yet when it came down to the voting, Clinton won by a 3% margin.

There’s really only one conclusion. When people were polled before they voted, they said they were going to vote for Obama. When they were in the privacy of the voting booth, they actually voted for Clinton. They wanted to look like they were open-minded, but when it came to actually acting, they chose based on race. The only explanation is the main distinguishing difference between Clinton and Obama: race. When push came to shove in a very white, very Democratic New England state, they chose the white woman over the black man.

I guess that lying to the pollsters shows at least some awareness that they ought to be voting on a color-blind basis, but clearly that moral impulse didn’t go very deep and was overwhelmed by fear or caution or plain old racism when they had to make a real commitment.

The problem isn’t limited to Democratic voters. Independents seem to have faced the same choice and made a similar decision. Despite telling pollsters they heavily favored Obama right up until the start of the primary, when it came to voting, independent voters seem to have flocked to John McCain, the whitest and safest alternative they could find.

Exit polling shows further support for this trend, with older voters — especially women over 40 — voting heavily for Clinton and staying away from Obama in droves. Clearly that is a demographic which may be a little scared by his message of change as well as the color of his skin.

Does this make the American voter a racist or America a racist nation? Not really. Even if race figures in as part of the voter’s decision, it’s clearly something people are self-conscious about, and just one of many factors they are taking into consideration. Not voting for someone partially on the basis of their race isn’t necessarily racist. It may just be caution and reasonable self-interest.

It’s perfectly reasonable for some Democrats to be concerned that the interests of the younger, more ethnic elements of the party are not the same as those of the older more traditional wing of the party. As the youth vote goes to Obama, the old-line Democrats are clearly clinging to Clinton as the last defender of their traditions. Clinton has the big-money backers – the lobbyists, the unions, and the international financial elites. All Obama has is a lot of charm and the promise of the future.

The bad news for Obama is that as the primary season moves into the rust belt and the south, race may become a bigger issue because voters are older and more conservative. If he couldn’t win New Hampshire with all of the kids of Dartmouth and UNH behind him, what chance does he have in Michigan or South Carolina?

About Dave Nalle

  • bliffle

    SOme people I know claim that McCain IS the Republican party. What it was before evangelizing neocons hijacked the party.

  • Arch Conservative

    You don’t have to be an eveangelizing neocon (I’m not) to recognize an amnesty deal that would flush our sovereignty down the toilet and a blatant attack on free speech when you see it bliffle.

    Maybe I don’t run in the same circles as you but it seems to me that Mccain is hated not only by the “evangelizing neocons” but by all but the most moderate in the GOP.

  • handyguy

    I don’t understand the bitterness of some right-wingers toward McCain, and I’m not clear how many people feel that strongly. If it’s mostly a matter of immigration, that’s a pretty remarkable case of tunnel vision. Single-issue voters are not doing themselves any favors.

    Since McCain does well in national poll match-ups against Clinton and Obama, you would think GOPers would rally round him. Those polls that show him leading nationally for the nomination are only including Republican voters, right? And he won Republican voters, by a narrow margin, in NH.

    I can’t find any recent national favorability numbers on him, or among Republicans only. He had over 70% favorability in NH, as did Obama. That’s pretty amazing.

  • Arch Conservative

    It’s not just amnesty or the fact that he consistently lies about his support of amnesty.

    It’s mccain feingold.

    It’s his constant ass kissing of the MSM and Democrats.

    It’s everything about the guy. He’s arrogant, smug, petty and doesn’t really have any respect for anyonw who disagrees with him.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Neither do you, Arch.

    (With respect…!)


  • handyguy

    And I’m sure John McCain cares as much [and possibly more] about US sovereignty and about free speech as Arch. The two of them just have different definitions.

    His immigration plan was of course not intended as a surrender of sovereignty – what possible motivation would he have for that? – and it didn’t pass anyway.

    His campaign finance law was certainly not designed to attack free speech, but to reduce the corrupting, distorting influence of big money and negative advertising on our politics.

    You can disagree with policy proposals without demonizing them. Or at least most people can.

  • Arch Conservative

    Well I’m not running for president dreadful.

    You guys can spin mccain feingold and his amnesty bill seven ways from Sunday but that won’t change the fact that the GOP base can’t stand him.

    It’s amusing having two liberals tell me how I should feel about someone on my side of the playground.

  • Dave Nalle

    As handy points out in #153 Archie is talking through his hat.

    While a lot of Republicans aren’t happy with McCain-Feingold, the ‘amnesty’ issues is completely bogus. McCain’s position is one shared by most mainline republicans and only offensive to nativists who remain a relatively small but vocal faction.

    McCain-Feingold is just a bad piece of legislation based on compromises which were ill-considered. Although McCain defends it, it’s clearly not what he had in mind when he started on campaign finance reform, and he has tried unsuccessfully to replace it a number of times.


  • Irene Wagner

    Not a full cycle of the moon’s waxes and wanes has passed since the surprises in New Hampshire. It’s too soon to dismiss from consideration any cause (or indeed, combination of causes) behind those surprises. It may ALWAYS be too soon. The vote one registers in a clugey paperless voting system and the degree of racism one manifests by casting that vote can’t be translated into data useful in doing statistical analyses.

    Besides, Dave Nalle, if “mud wrestling” matches can or could be used by local party officials to determine the winner of a primary, then why all the effort spent predicting and doing post mortems on the outcomes? What does it matter what the voters think, if it’s only the VOTE COUNTERS whose opinion really matters?

    If I’m white and voted for Clinton instead of for Obama, it doesn’t mean I’m racist. If I say I voted for Obama in an exit poll and the voting machine says I voted for Clinton, then it’s foolhardy and naive of anyone to dismiss voting machine error or…voting machine tinkering by the party officials whose mud wrestling resulted in a draw. If I’m black and vote for Ron Paul, it doesn’t mean I’m Uncle Tom.

    Charges of racism seem to be the theme of the week in news stories, apparently.

  • Dave Nalle

    Besides, Dave Nalle, if “mud wrestling” matches can or could be used by local party officials to determine the winner of a primary, then why all the effort spent predicting and doing post mortems on the outcomes? What does it matter what the voters think, if it’s only the VOTE COUNTERS whose opinion really matters?

    Bread and circuses comes to mind.


  • Irene Wagner

    In THOSE circuses though, the Senators weren’t playing the clowns.