WHY THE RACE WILL NOT BE ABOUT RACE

Also posted on The Policy Think Site — http://jaygaskill.com/TheRACE.htm

ELECTION 2012 –

SNAPSHOT OF A “POST-BLACK” INCUMBENT IN TROUBLE

Thursday, April 26, 2012

► Political Analysis

By Jay B Gaskill

Race should not matter at all or as much as the media seems to want us to believe.

But don’t ask a market analyst.  We are expected somehow to dress, vote, shop, and eat according to stereotypes derived from long standing racial and ethnic patterns.

Our purchasing habits aside, most of us (me included) tend to feel insulted when someone tries to attach a false stereotype to us.  After all, the Enlightenment ended all that nonsense, right?  I mean, after the American and French revolutions and the humanist movement, we are all fellow earthlings, equal under the skin, right?  Try this for a reality check.  The authors, compilers and analysis responsible for the U.S. census of 2010 attempted to achieve a race / ethnicity catalogue into which the entire US population would be sorted. Here are representative categories that the experts came up with-

  1. White;
  2. Black or African American;
  3. American Indian or Alaska Native;
  4. Asian;
  5. Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander;
  6. Not Hispanic or Latino;
  7. Non-Hispanic White;
  8. Non-Hispanic Black or African American;
  9. Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native;

10.  Non-Hispanic Asian;

11.  Non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander;

12.  Non-Hispanic Some Other Race;

13.  Non-Hispanic;

14.  Hispanic or Latino;

15.  White Hispanic;

16.  Black or African American Hispanic;

17.  American Indian or Alaska Native Hispanic;

18.   Asian Hispanic;

19.  Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander Hispanic;

20.  Some Other Race Hispanic…

See http://www.census.gov/prod/cen2010/briefs/c2010br-02.pdf

I chuckled when I read a note following the summary–“Due to rounding, figures may not add up to the totals shown.”  Rounding? Really? The total far exceeds 100%.  The reason for this was not a series of rounding errors. It was a policy of double counting and category overlap. Why do that? you ask? Because these are political categories, potential voting blocks, marketing targets.

Such blocks matter because, sadly, we don’t live in an Enlightenment era.  We live in an era shaped by the psychology of post-modern multiculturalism and the lingering detritus of old patterns of tribal oppression.  The very stereotypes condemned by the Enlightenment (class, race, language, gender) are allowed in via the backdoor marked, “enter the oppressed”; the side doors marked “enter the oppressors”; and the front door marked “enter the vicarious guilty.”

So let’s leave aside the issue of just how black our incumbent president is – bearing in mind that he calculatedly celebrated St. Patty’s Day in honor of his mother’s Irish ancestors, and that prominent black opinion leaders complained that senator Obama wasn’t “really” one of them because neither he nor his African father were scarred by the evils of American slavery.

President Obama is an African American male by contemporary American political standards

CENSUS DATA, if believed, puts the so called white population of the USA at 72.4%.

Suppose just 70% of the “white” electorate votes for a candidate. Recall that 80% of black voters supported Obama in the last election.  Just seventy percent of white voters will deliver an absolute majority- 50.57% of the total vote. The first African American elected to the presidency (but probably not the last), won because of white voters.

The question before the bar of public opinion and history that no one seems willing to talk openly about is this one: If the American voters do decide to replace Mr. Obama in November, will America have to live with a massive guilt trip because such a vote would be racist?

As someone who still cherishes the Enlightenment’s ideals, I say “No” – this race is not about Race.  Mr. Obama was elected on the perceived merits and he will be defeated (if that happens) on the perceived merits.  The race-based voters (prominent among them, most of Mr. Obama’s non-white supporters) will be important but not decisive in this election. Elections are won by turnout, cumulative impressions, recent events, issues, a sense of confidence in leadership, all of which are tricky to assess, too difficult to predict at this point. All things considered, Team Obama has a lot to worry about these days. I detect a trend line.

“A newly-released FOX News poll, complemented with the latest Gallup weekly tracking numbers, suggest … that Obama’s approval ratings with white voters have dropped so badly that even a surge in minority turnout and enthusiasm towards Obama wouldn’t be enough to win him a second term.

“The poll, released Thursday, shows Obama with a brutal 34 percent job approval rating with white voters. That’s not necessarily an outlier: Gallup’s latest weekly track found his job approval rating at 36 percent with white voters. (For context, Democrats still managed to win 37 percent of the white vote in the 2010 midterms, even as they lost a historic 63 House seats that year.)  And his approval with nonwhites — at 71 percent in Gallup, 65 percent in the Fox survey — is far from the 80 percent he tallied in the 2008 general election.”

Read more:http://times247.com/articles/week-exposed-obama-s-weakness#ixzz1shYUuWxu

JBG continues –

The situation is complicated.  Turnout among so called “white voters” is traditionally higher than among so called “non-white” voters.  This is why the Rasmussen Poll did a more accurate job in predicting recent races than all the others – it is weighted to reflect probable turnout.

But attitudes about the incumbent are constantly shifting in both directions. So far Rasmussen is showing a very tight race.  And key states can matter more than the overall popular vote.  As I write this, there is an Electoral College Map circulating on the web prepared by GOP guru Carl Rove, that  shows Team Romney badly trailing Team Obama in electoral votes based on early projections  http://rove.com/election. Watch Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania…

As of today, Rasmussen shows–
RASMUSSEN POLLING

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Friday shows President Obama earning 47% of the vote, while likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney picks up support from 46%. Four percent (4%) would vote for a third party candidate, while another three percent (3%) are undecided.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney now runs even with President Obama in the key swing state of Florida.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the Sunshine State finds Romney with 46% of the vote, while Obama earns 45% support. Six percent (6%) prefer some other candidate, and another three percent (3%) are undecided.

“Friday, April 20, 2012

‘President Obama continues to lead presumptive Republican candidate Mitt Romney in the key battleground state of Ohio but by a slightly narrower margin.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Obama with 46% support to Romney’s 42%.  Five percent (5%) prefers some other candidate, while eight percent (8%) are undecided.”

JBG again …

The volatility of the popular vote will continue until voters focus on the economy and begin to assess whether the president can be trusted with its handling for the next four years.

The most ominous trend for the incumbent is the stubbornness of President Obama’s disapproval ratings, and the erosion of support among independent voters.

Again, from Rasmussen:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Saturday shows that 27% of the nation’s voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -13.

Seventy percent (70%) of Republicans Strongly Disapprove, while 57% of Democrats Strongly Approve.

Among voters not affiliated with either major party, 17% Strongly Approve, and 43% Strongly Disapprove.”

More from JBG –

Although it is a bit early, I am now persuaded that Mr. Obama’s presidency is in real jeopardy, especially when measured by the support for incumbents facing a failing economy at this late stage in a first term (Carter was still polling ahead of Reagan at this stage of the 1980 campaign).  Given the unsettledness of the economic situation and the background anxiety of the voters on that single, decisive issue, I believe that this president’s prospects of winning a second term are strong in only two scenarios:

  • A credible, sustained economic recovery becomes evident (as opposed to a new norm with 15% structural underemployment)

– Or-

  • A race-based vote emerges that cuts this new president slack that might be denied to any other incumbent with the same record.

Now the professional political analysts take it as a given that the so-called “black” vote will break overwhelmingly in Mr. Obama’s favor, no matter what.  Since Mr. Obama was decisively elected because of his strong support among white voters, the question of the day is this: Will the non-black 2008 Obama voters abandon him over the economy? This depends on the fear factor.  If voters are still afraid and insecure in October – which is the same as saying unless a strong recovery is credibly and unambiguously underway in October, they will jump ship provided only that the alternative is plausibly better.

In this sense, Obama’s victory was like a rebound relationship (we elected the anti-Bush); but one rebound augers the prospect of another.  The voters are just as fickle today as then. Politics is never fair. Governor Romney is well positioned as the rebound suitor.

The incumbent president had a clear run at fixing things with two full years of effective control of the congress, and promised to do so, even conceding in an overconfident moment that his failure would probably make him a one term wonder.  Politics is coldly unforgiving in such cases.  Even Mr. Obama’s closest advisors know that he owns the economy…for better and (as it now appears)…for worse.

In the most recent New York Times Op Ed by the increasingly irrelevant Paul (I’m still a famous economist) Krugman, we are told that it’s all about amnesia. Krugman argues in effect that Governor Romney and stupid voters have forgotten that the current malaise was all Mr. Bush’s fault.

(The Amnesia Candidate { http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html }

Was.

But Governor Romney has none of Bush II’s baggage, while Mr. Obama has accumulated the baggage of three years and three months of governance – enough that he now will be judged by results over hope…fairly or unfairly[i].

Recall that in Bill Clinton’s unexpected victory of 1994 over the senior President Bush, the winning mantra was, “It’s the economy stupid.”  Mr. Obama’s mantra of defeat may well be, “It was that stupid economy!”

The European mess is outside the president’s control.  This won’t be the first or the last election that is to be decided by matters outside the control[ii] of the Principal Resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In the opinion of a number of experts, the European economic crisis cannot end well enough or soon enough to avoid a palpable negative drag on the fragile US economy before November. Mr. Obama won because of an economic crisis that was outside his control in 2008 and may lose because of an economic crisis that is outside his control in 2012.

Fin

JBG

Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law (quoted material excepted)

First published on the Policy Think Site { www.jaygaskill.com } and the Dot 2 Dot Blog.

Forwards, links and quotes with attribution are welcome and encouraged.

For everything else, please contact the author via email at { law@jaygaskill.com }.


[i] This means that the Obama campaign’s strategy will be to invent baggage for Governor Romney, whether directly or through surrogates. We can expect attempts to exploit the “Mormon issue”, the “insensitive rich guy” issue, and so on.  If the economy is shaky, these efforts will backfire. If the economy is sound, the advantage goes to the incumbent, baggage or no baggage,

[ii] “…[T]he reputations of our Presidents often turn on economic factors beyond their control,” writes

John Cassidy in the April 26th New Yorker – part of that author’s optimistic, liberal spin on this president’s prospects.  But the New York Times raised a cautionary note on April 19th- “A rising number of Americans see improvement in the economy, but a persistent wariness about their own financial circumstances is allowing Mitt Romney to convince voters that he could improve their economic prospects more than President Obama, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll”. The healthy thing about all this – from my Enlightenment perspective – is that nobody is talking about race.

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