2008 Democratic Primary

Last class I made a statement which kind of surprised me. I actually said “Obama didn’t win the presidency because he was black, but he won the democratic nomination because he was black.” I believe that this statement requires some explanation.

African-Americans made up a large voting bloc in the 2008 Democratic primaries. Obama on average won approximately 86.1 percent of African-American vote in the Democratic primaries. African-Americans made up a majority of the electorate in the southern primaries; as a result, Obama handily defeated Clinton by an overwhelming majority in the southern states, where African-Americans constituted about 30 percent or more of the Democratic electorate. Obama carried over 80% of African-Americans in states like GA(87.75%), AL(84%), LA(85%), NC(92%), MS(91%), VA(89%), and countless others.

Hillary Clinton not once in any of the states that she won carried similar percentages of white voters, even when white voters made up over 70% of the electorate. In almost all of the states that Clinton won Obama won the black vote heavily: OH(88%), IN(90%), KY(91%), and TX(84.5%). To counter, Hillary did win large percentages of whites in a few states: WV(69%), AR(77.25%, important to note Clinton’s history in AR), and OH(70%). In Ohio 20% of voters stated that race was important; 59% of those voters voted for Clinton.

These stats are important because delegates are won in these primaries based on the amount of votes each candidate wins in the primaries. Obama was able to rack up large amounts of delegates in these states because of the African-American vote. This voting block is perhaps the primary reason he was able to outlast the Clinton machine. Clinton won large states like CA, TX, and NY, but her percentage of vote was not high enough to close the gap in delegates. Many attribute these numbers to blacks showing their pride for a viable black candidate, but therein lies the problem. If whites voted for a white candidate over a black candidate with these same percentages, allegations of racism would ensue. Yet, because blacks were voting in such large percentages for a black candidate its an issue of showing pride, not racism.

The numbers from the primaries clearly show that America has a race problem. Hillary Clinton was a victim of racism. African-American delegates that supported her initially abandoned her in the end. Former Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones was vilified for her support of Clinton. Many in the African-American community labeled Tubbs-Jones as a “sellout”. A credible candidate was abandoned. A faithful public servant was abandoned. An accomplished senator was overlooked because she was the wrong color. Hillary Clinton was a victim of a travestied affirmative action process.  Pres. Obama was clearly its benefactor.

Stats were provided by the CNN 2008 election center.

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