The Impact of Racialized Attacks on Senator Obama

     The fivethirtyeight website reports on an analysis of the last month’s changes in voter preferences for Senators McCain and Obama:

Survey USA has now released polls in fifteen states that were taken at the height of the Jeremiah Wright controversy (this past Friday through Sunday). We can compare the demographic groups in these polls to Survey USA’s previous set of polls, which were conducted in the last couple days of February. . . . I’m merely comparing Obama’s net advantage against McCain between the February and the March surveys. If Obama was leading among whites in Oregon by 6 points in February, but he trailed by 2 points in March, that would be recorded as a “-8”.

What they call the “Wright effect” is significant. Summing the effects across the fifteen states, Senator Obama’s net advantage relative to McCain has dropped by 9 percent among whites, 4-7 percent among men and women, 3 percent among younger voters and 13 percent among older voters, 9 percent among Republican voters, 1 percent among Independents, 5 percent among Democrats, and 5-11 percent among liberal and moderate voters. In contrast, black support went up 6 percent, and Hispanic support up 5 percent.


        Of course, these data are early yet in the season, and the last polling was done close to the Dr. Wright story, with no impact yet from Senator Obama’s powerful speech, but they do suggest some impact not only from the negative and racially biased way the corporate media have spun the Wright story, but also from the impact of earlier racialized attacks this month by Representative S. King and the corporate media on Senator Obama’s Muslim “connections” and “optics.”

        As I predicted two months back, these racialized attacks on Senator Obama have come just as he appears to be the likely Democratic candidate and seem to have had their intended effect in backing off some white voters. There are at least two other somewhat similar, major political attacks on Senator Obama waiting in the political wings. Such intentional attacks, because of the deep white racial framing of the “dangerous black man” in many (especially white) voters’ minds, create major hurdles for Senator Obama in his pioneering attempt to win the presidency in the fall.


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