Hacks Like Thee


I don’t know who else noticed besides your humble narrator, but Ron Fournier and Charles Babington of the AP took turns this weekend writing two stories on the same poll concerning the election.

I’ll give you Fournier first (here)…

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

And now Babington (here)…

(The poll) shows that a substantial portion of white Americans still harbor negative feelings toward blacks. It shows that blacks and whites disagree tremendously on how much racial prejudice exists, whose fault it is and how much influence blacks have in politics.

One result is that Barack Obama’s path to the presidency is steeper than it would be if he were white.

And in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, the Pope is German, and Dubya’s job approval rating is now at 19 percent (here – doesn’t have anything to do with this post, really, but what would I be if I missed an opportunity to take a shot over that?).

Yes, race is an issue, but Fournier and Babington both throw around a lot of statistics from Stanford University (which I’ve never identified as a hotbed of progressive political thought anyway) that I’m not going to waste anyone’s time trying to analyze (I’m a blogger, not an insurance actuary). I put more stock in reporting on this matter like the type that Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News provided here (not trying to impugn him in the post title, by the way).

And if I can “go meta” for a second on this, I just want to make the personal observation that, as a white male living in the Northeast, I no longer feel any implied sense of entitlement or superiority over anyone living in any other region of this country on the matter of race. It’s true that I should not have felt that way anyway, and I’m sorry about that. But after watching or hearing of the conduct of a great many people who I thought knew better than to disqualify Barack Obama merely because of the color of his skin over these last few months, I have to tell you that I have found myself truly sobered into recognizing this fact (and I have found that conduct to be utterly shocking – say what you want, but that’s the way it is, as that news guy used to say).

That being said, though, I would just like to remind us all of this Gallup poll from last February which, among other things, showed steeper numbers for Hillary Clinton in a matchup with John W. McBush when it came to white male voters (40 HRC- 55 McBush versus 45 Obama – 50 McBush) and showed better numbers among overall voters for Obama against McBush than HRC against the Repug nominee (with the exception of voters 65 and older).

And though Hillary Clinton fared better than Obama in a McBush matchup when it came to rating the two Dems on their experience, I personally think that’s a wash given the fact that our corporate media would have recycled every conceivable negative Clinton narrative to negate her edge had she won the nomination. I think it works to Obama’s advantage that he’s more of a “blank slate,” the nonstop Tony Rezko-Reverend Wright caterwauling by Fox Noise and right-wing attack radio notwithstanding (a lot harder for Broderella, for example, to go sniffing around in the Obama’s underwear drawer than the Clinton’s).

Also, please keep in mind here that I would have been happy with Hillary as the nominee (yes, really). She and Obama were both excellent candidates, but what decided it for me was the precision of Obama’s campaign, versus all of the pratfalls from the people who were supposed to be serving Hillary (and both she and her husband had their stumbles also – those contrasts told me how each of them would have governed). I’m not trying to use “analysis” from Fournier, Babington or anyone else to justify my selection (and either way, that selection would have been historic from the moment John Edwards left the campaign, which, we now know, was an act of providence).

I don’t know how much of an issue race is going to play in this election, and I have news for you: nobody else does either. And unless the AP is going to walk us step by step through exactly how this study was conducted (e.g., they note that photos of Caucasians versus African-Americans were shown to measure responses in the Stanford study; why can’t we see the photos?), they shouldn’t try acting like they do (at the very least, the Fournier and Babington pieces should have been labeled “analysis”; why was even that slight gesture too much trouble?).

Update: As soon as I pressed Enter on this, I realized I’d forgotten to point out that there are a bunch of nested links for both the Fournier and Babington pieces providing more information on the survey methodology, though it takes some digging to get to this information.

Update 9/23/08: This is a recording…

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