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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 12:50 AM
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WSJ: More Blacks Lean Toward Obama
Shift in Allegiance From Clinton Could Tighten Primaries in South
December 14, 2007

==Barack Obama's rising poll numbers among white voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are having an unexpected ripple effect: Some black voters are switching their allegiance from Hillary Clinton and lining up behind him too. That could mean a further tightening of the Democratic presidential race, especially in southern states where blacks make up as many as half of Democratic primary voters.

The evidence of movement is most clear in South Carolina, site of the first primary where black votes figure to make a significant impact. There, four polls now show Illinois Sen. Obama with a lead among African-American voters for the Jan. 26 vote. As a result, the race in South Carolina has tightened, with some polls calling it a dead heat. A Rasmussen poll completed last week among South Carolina voters shows Mr. Obama now attracting 51% of the African-American vote, compared with 27% for Mrs. Clinton. A month ago, the candidates were tied among South Carolina black voters. Along with other polls, Rasmussen shows the two candidates essentially tied among all South Carolina voters.

...A big factor behind the rise in black support for Mr. Obama in South Carolina appears to be his popularity among white voters, though he is also expanding his outreach to black voters, and many of his views, especially his opposition to the Iraq war and support of social programs, resonate strongly with them. "I see how charisma is among other races," says Ed Robinson, owner of Posh soul-food restaurant in downtown Florence, S.C. "He has been able to attract people from all races." Mr. Robinson said he strongly considered backing Mrs. Clinton but has now decided to back Mr. Obama.

"A lot of African-Americans in the South have questions about whether a black candidate can be elected president," says David Bositis of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which studies black issues. "Picking someone who is going to have a good chance to win is very much on their minds. If Obama shows he can win and that white voters can vote for him, there will be a lot of African-Americans who will be lining up to support him."

...Billy D. Williams, a retired African-American interior decorator in South Carolina, supported Bill Clinton twice for president but says he is supporting Mr. Obama now because "it's time for a change. I'm not talking about a change like the Republicans slap on us, but I'm talking about a real change." He says Mr. Obama's support of education is critical, because the predominantly black schools in rural eastern South Carolina are failing. Mr. Obama's efforts to woo black voters could create challenges for a candidate who has so far minimized the issue of race.

"To some extent, white voters like Obama because he is nonracial and they are used to candidates like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton" who are more confrontational and emphasize black issues, says Mr. Lester, the pollster, who is African-American. At the same time, says Mr. Lester, "when Obama goes south, he will have to make extra efforts to get black voters. How that will play with white voters will be very interesting."==
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