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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-15-08 11:32 AM
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McClatchy: How big a factor is race in Democratic presidential contest?
How big a factor is race in Democratic presidential contest?
By David Lightman | McClatchy Newspapers

* Posted on Friday, March 14, 2008

WASHINGTON Race matters in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, but how much it matters isn't clear yet.

"We are moving toward a post-racial society, and we're going to find out how far along that path we are," said author Richard Reeves.

This much is clear: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama does well among whites in states such as Vermont and Iowa, where there are few blacks and little or no history of racial conflict.

In states with large numbers of black voters and legacies of racial tension African-Americans give Obama huge majorities, and better-educated and higher-income whites tend to give him strong support, too. But most other whites in those states lean to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton. Is that partly about race?

When prominent Southern historian Earl Black, a professor of political science at Rice University in Houston, looks at some recent primary results including Clinton's 3 to 1 win among whites in Mississippi on Tuesday he sees a familiar pattern: "It's like a general election. In the South, there's total racial polarization in the Democratic field."

But when Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a liberal research group, weighs Obama's success nationwide in becoming the Democratic front-runner, he sees the possibility that Obama may be creating a new political paradigm.

It's too soon to say for sure, Teixeira said, but race "must matter less than it used to, or Obama would not be in the position he's in."

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