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Obama 2008 vs. Jackson 1988

By Jon Cohen
Former president Bill Clinton caused a stir this week by comparing Barack Obama's success in South Carolina to Jesse Jackson's in 1988 and 1984. But an analysis of the data shows that, while there are some similarities, Obama has already crossed racial divides in his presidential bid that Jackson never did.

In overwhelmingly white Iowa and New Hampshire, Obama significantly outperformed Jackson, and Obama has broader national appeal now than Jackson did 20 years ago.

Obama picked up 38 percent of Iowa caucusgoers this month; Jackson scored just 9 percent in 1988. There was a similarly wide 37 percent to 8 percent gap between how the two did in the New Hampshire primary.

It is true that Obama's 55 percent share of the vote in South Carolina is about equal to Jackson's reported support from 1988. But in 1988 the state party held caucuses, not a primary, drawing fewer than a tenth the number of voters who turned out this year. (Jackson was also born in the state.)

Continue reading at Behind the Numbers >>

By Washington Post editors  |  January 28, 2008; 1:14 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , The Pollster  
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