Hillary Clinton

The Unbearable Whiteness of Being

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The Hotline's senior editor John Mercurio has a little smoke blown his way in a story about (among other things) whether Americans would elect a black president.

[Black Democrat Robert] Ford said a national ticket featuring Obama in 2008 would be a significant drag on Democrats up and down state ballots, hurting the party as it struggles to hold slim majorities in Congress and pick up governor's offices in red states like Indiana and Missouri. He also said it would be unwinnable. "He'd have to get 47 to 49 percent of the white vote in every state, and that's humanly impossible," Ford said, accusing Obama of falling prey to "ego."

Here's the problem with that: Forty-seven or 49 percent of the white vote would be unusually high for a Democratic candidate. That's more than any Democrat has racked up since Lyndon Johnson bellowed his way past Barry Goldwater 43 years ago.

Check out the exit polling for John Kerry, who came within one state of winning the presidency in 2004. Kerry, who's got a pigment defict that puts Obama to shame, lost the white vote to George Bush by 17 points. That was a big step down from Al Gore, who won the popular vote while losing the white vote by 10 points. And that number's only as high as it is because 44 percent of white women voted for Kerry. Only 37 percent of white men did.

None of this should controversial (although since the journalist who spends the most time studying it is Steve Sailer, so it is). We have two political parties. One unites white conservatives, moderates and center-rightists; the other unites white liberals with liberal and conservative minority groups. (The third parties are overwhelmingly white.) Neither party wins by turning out or converting minority voters. Three-quarters of the electorate is white, and Republicans win by getting more than 55 percent of the white vote, while Democrats win by getting more than 45 percent of it. If Obama got 49 percent of that vote, he'd be winning the biggest Democratic landslide in two generations—56 or 57 percent of the popular vote, and probably more than 380 electoral votes. But the critical question is "Can he get 45 percent of it?" He got 66 percent of it in 2004, but he was running against Alan Keyes. Fun fact: That's 3 points better than Hillary Clinton did in 2006, running against a similarly pathetic (but white) candidate, John Spencer. Obama has a comfortable, emotional appeal to white voters, which makes him very dangerous for Republicans.