Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login

A Hoosier Precedent for Voters Transcending Race - Fran Quigley

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU
Vinnie From Indy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-21-08 08:38 AM
Original message
A Hoosier Precedent for Voters Transcending Race - Fran Quigley

After the late Julia Carson was first elected to Congress in 1996, I was privileged to serve as her chief of staff. During one of our first trips to Washington together, a Capitol Hill veteran took a look at the new representative from what was then Indianas Tenth Congressional District and pulled me aside. I didnt know Andy Jacobs represented a majority black district, he whispered.

Of course, he didnt, and she didnt. The congressional district which encompassed most of Indianapolis was then over 70% white. But it was nearly unprecedented for such a voter demographic to send an African American to Congress. This guy in Washington knew his politics, and he knew that race has historically had a huge impact on elections.

So did Jacobs. How can an African woman be elected to Congress from a 70% European district? the former Congressman repeated in a conversation last week. In candor, I didnt know that she could. But I was duty bound to support the best person, and she was certainly that.

The effect of race on voting is Topic A these days, with Barack Obama holding a slim but clear lead in the polls. The Bush administration is taking most of the public blame for the dismal economy, and Obama is out-performing John McCain in the eyes of undecided voters viewing the debates. Obama appears poised to become the 44th President of the United States.

Unless racism defeats him.

The potential stealth effect of race on voting is sometimes referred to as the Bradley effect. The term refers to the 1982 race for governor of California, when polls showing African American candidate and Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley with a healthy lead were refuted by a Bradley defeat on election day. Some say the polling-versus-voting discrepancy has been shown in other races with African American candidates. Whites wont admit it to pollsters, the theory goes, but in the anonymity of the voting booth, conscious or sub-conscious prejudice makes many whites unlikely to vote for a non-white candidate.

The validity of the Bradley effect is hotly debated. But the persistent effects of race in U.S. society is a given. A Stanford University/Associated Press/Yahoo News study from this summer showed that one-third of white Democrats held some negative views of African Americans, and that Obamas support might be as much as six percentage points higher if he were white.

In part, race may also work in Obamas favor. He is likely to receive almost unanimous support from African Americans, and many whites are attracted to the idea that electing an African American to our highest office will help reverse Americas ugly legacy of racism.

The sheer number of white voters hurt by the depressed economy should work to Obamas advantage, too. As one labor leader reportedly told white workers: You can vote your prejudice, or you can vote your pocketbook.

But for worried Obama supporters still seeking reassuring precedent, Indianas own Carson effect serves as a counter-theory to the Bradley effect. Carson routinely earned far better results on election days than the polls projected.

That included her very first Congressional contest in the 1996 Democratic primary, when Carson won a convincing victory over her opponents and the notion that Hoosier whites would not vote for an African American. It was such a joy to realize that we lived through and beyond it, Jacobs recalls.

Jacobs, whose longtime vocal opposition to the war in Iraq and to risking Social Security in the stock market looks mighty prescient these days, is an Obama supporter. Jacobs not only agrees with Obama on most of the key issues, he would like to once again see evidence that voters will transcend racethis time on democracys biggest stage. I would so desperately savor striking this off the list of stupidities in my society, he says.

Quigley is an attorney and director of operations for the Indiana-Kenya Partnership and former head of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union.

A link to The Indianapolis Star version of this column:

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
faithfulcitizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-21-08 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
1. I met Andy Jacobs a few times. He & Julia were very helpful to General Clark. He is an encyclopedia
of Indiana politics. Great guy too! I think Andy will get his wish again this November. The sheer number of new registrants is amazing.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Tue Oct 17th 2017, 06:50 AM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]

Home » Discuss » Archives » General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009) Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators

Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC