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The 2008 election was more, not less, race-driven than most

By Ezra Klein

I haven't read it yet, but the University of Chicago Press just sent me “Obama's Race,” and it looks interesting:

Barack Obama’s presidential victory naturally led people to believe that the United States might finally be moving into a post-racial era. Obama’s Race — and its eye-opening account of the role played by race in the election — paints a dramatically different picture.

The authors argue that the 2008 election was more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election on record — and perhaps more significantly, that there were two sides to this racialization: resentful opposition to and racially liberal support for Obama. As Obama’s campaign was given a boost in the primaries from racial liberals that extended well beyond that usually offered to ideologically similar white candidates, Hillary Clinton lost much of her longstanding support and instead became the preferred candidate of Democratic racial conservatives. Time and again, voters’ racial predispositions trumped their ideological preferences as John McCain — seldom described as conservative in matters of race — became the darling of racial conservatives from both parties.

By Ezra Klein  | November 16, 2010; 4:52 PM ET
Categories:  Books  
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Comments

David O. Sears is one of the leading scholars on the intersection of race and politics in America. Very provocative territory, but he's as well equipped to tread it as anyone. Should be interesting.

Posted by: vvf2 | November 16, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

"Racial conservatives?" Really? The pretty euphemistic. There's a shorter word for people who won't accept a minority for President.

Posted by: KenZ1 | November 16, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I think there are some pretty strong parallels between Barack Obama and Harold Washington. In particular, in Congress just as in the Chicago city council, all sorts of implicit codes of behavior and decorum suddenly fell away when faced with a black Executive. And without those implied understandings, the system of democratic governance suddenly became almost unworkable. I have a sinking feeling that 2009-2012 are going to be remembered like a national version of the Council Wars.

Posted by: NS12345 | November 16, 2010 10:37 PM | Report abuse

"There's a shorter word for people who won't accept a minority for President."

Really? And what would you call people who won't accept a conservative minority like Clarence Thomas as a Supreme Court Justice?

Posted by: bgmma50 | November 17, 2010 1:06 AM | Report abuse

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