Thursday, April 24, 2008

Would Hillary Lose the Black Vote?

There are a lot of arguments against the super-delegates handing Hillary the nomination at the close of the primaries if she continues to trail in the delegate and popular vote totals (as she is likely to.) But according to Michael Dawson, another might be the loss of the black vote if insider shenanigans are seen to rob Obama of the nomination:

A "prominent Republican" interviewed for the story claimed that Obama's biggest weakness was that he was black and therefore had a significant percentage of the November electorate already predisposed against him. Such glaring numbers may persuade still uncommitted superdelegates that Obama is unelectable in November.

Should that happen, the Democratic Party will face the Herculean task of trying to mobilize its most loyal constituency – black voters -- in the face of deep and widespread black bitterness and active campaigns in the black community encouraging black voters to defect or abstain. You can already hear the angry comparisons. Just like in 2000, the protests will go, an election will have been "stolen." But this time from within the party! Malcolm X's quote about how the rules are changed when blacks start to succeed will also, I bet, be prominently displayed.

Many will argue that if a candidate with as much multi-racial appeal as Obama cannot be treated fairly, then there is truly no hope of any black in the U.S. (with perhaps the exception of a black Republican) to win the nation's top office in the foreseeable future. My own prediction, should we head down this road, is that the already worrying statistic of 79 percent of blacks who believe that racial equality for blacks will either not be achieved in their lifetime or at all in the U.S. will jump to an even larger percentage (see my website for how this percentage has changed over the past few years). Should this happen, Democrats would risk losing traditionally safe states with large black populations, leaving them with amuch more difficult, perhaps impossible, road to victory.

I have no doubt in my mind that if Obama fails to win the nomination thanks to the super-delegates, many voters of all colors will be furious. But black voters in particular would be likely to take it as a sucker punch to the gut. I don't know how many of them would stay home though. Black voters are in the same position as conservative evangelicals are in the Republican Party; complain though they may, they have nowhere else to go (though of course, conservative evangelicals have considerably more power within their party than blacks do within theirs.) But might they stay home in significant enough numbers to cost Obama electoral votes in close states? Perhaps. Would they be wrong to do so? Not in their minds, since they'd probably feel the Democratic Party no longer represents them. Who could convincingly argue that they'd be wrong?

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