Why some blacks still might not vote for Obama
There are more factors than race. Just look to recent history for proof.
For the first time in history, an African American looks close to winning the presidency. Throughout his campaign, Sen. Barack Obama has faced a blunt question: Can he win enough white voters to win? It's a question that's as much about race as it is about electability.Skip to next paragraph
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A recent study out of Stanford University suggests that racial prejudice is eroding as much as 6 percentage points from Senator Obama's support. One commentator has even suggested that white racism would be the only explanation for an Obama loss this November.
But there's another facet to this story – and it could prove to be equally decisive: the reluctance of some black voters to vote for Obama.
A New York Times poll taken this past July showed that 6 percent of black respondents say that they wouldn't vote for a black candidate (presumably Obama). Just 5 percent of white respondents said the same.
What's behind this black resistance to Obama?
More than a few blacks grumble that Obama will be blamed for the financial mess, which may only get worse on his watch. If he gets blamed for it, the thinking goes, somehow it will blow back on blacks due to the infuriating racial double standard in which the failing of one is regarded as a failing for all blacks.
Then there's the age-old rap that blacks who don't support other blacks for political office or anything else are filled with self-loathing and color phobia – in reverse. This racial self-hate supposedly rears its ugly head every time a black tries to get ahead.
And there's also the persistent fear that if Obama wins, he will be in perpetual danger of being assassinated.
But none of this totally explains the trepidation and reluctance of some blacks to back Obama.
Here's the point that's often missed: Blacks aren't and never have been of one mind on anything, nor should they be. Blacks are as varied and diverse in their social and political views as any other demographic, and that includes embracing conservative social and religious positions.
This was plainly evident in the presidential battle in Ohio and Florida in 2004. Bush racked up double digit vote percentages among black voters. He did it by shrewdly appealing to the hard opposition of many blacks to abortion, gay marriage, and their support of school vouchers.
Polls have also shown that a significant number of blacks oppose welfare, back the death penalty, and support black anti-affirmative crusader Ward Connerly's state initiatives banning affirmative action programs in public hiring. To many socially conservative blacks, Obama is simply a too-liberal, tax-and-spend-Democrat for their tastes.