Thursday, May 15, 2008

James Cobb contemplates...

why Barack Obama's poll numbers have been more accurate in the South than in the North:
...in five of six previous primary losses in states outside the South where polling data is available, Obama’s percentages of the actual vote have fallen short, frequently well short, of the percentages indicated in the final poll averages. Obama ran eleven points behind his final poll average in New Hampshire, ten points behind in California, and eight points behind in Massachusetts. In North Carolina, on the other hand, he ran six points ahead of the polls, and in Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama, his positive margins were eighteen, seventeen, and fifteen points, respectively...

If last-second shifts help to explain why Obama has performed better in the polls than at the polls in several non-southern states, what explains the shifts themselves?...

It’s hard to know how much of a role plain old prevarication by whites has played in generating the disparity between Obama’s polling percentages and his vote percentages outside the South, but I’m guessing it may be a significant one. If so, this raises some questions: Why would white Democrats outside the South be more likely to say they support a black candidate and then fail to actually follow through in the voting both?...

...
However directly it may fly in the face of enduring regional stereotypes, from where I sit, Obama’s much stronger performance among whites in states like Georgia and Texas than in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania would seem to suggest that maybe whites in the South who say they support Obama are simply more likely than whites elsewhere to really mean it. This possibility likely says less about the greater racial tolerance of white southerners as a group, of course, than the relatively stronger economic and educational bonafides of southern white Democrats, among whom blue-collar types are as rare as a full set of teeth at a Porter Wagoner concert.

In any case, with the nomination of a black candidate now a virtual certainty, Democratic campaign strategists would at least seem to have a better idea of where they stand with white Democratic voters in the South than with Democratic whites elsewhere in the country...

Read the whole thing.

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