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Race, Polls, Obama

posted by David Kuo

It now seems pretty clear that virtually all of the late polling on the Democratic side was wrong… very wrong. The last Rasmussen Report had Obama +7 over Clinton. CBS had him +7. USA Today had Obama +13 and CNN +10.
With more than 25% of New Hampshire now reporting Obama is -5. 80% of precincts still need to report. Nashua still needs to report. But this gap really is extraordinary. Chances are nil that Obama is going to win overwhelmingly.
Why?
It is a return to the race-gap polling problems of the 1980s and 1990s:

This phenomenon was first noticed in the 1982 race for governor of California, where Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, a black Democrat, narrowly lost to Republican George Deukmejian, despite polls showing him with a lead ranging from 9 to 22 points. The next year, African American Democrat Harold Washington barely won his race for mayor of Chicago against Republican Bernard Epton. Pre-election polls taken within the last two weeks of the campaign showed Washington with a 14-point lead.

The problem was prominent in the New York City mayoral race in 1989. David Dinkens, an African American candidate beat Republican Rudy Giuliani by only 2 points, despite leading by as much as 18 points in polls a week before the election.
Tonight, despite all the talk of how little race matters in this campaign, it is clear that race is still a big deal in bi-racial campaigns. And it has showed up for the first time, in a measurable way, in the 2008 presidential race.



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Dooley

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:10 pm


I would love it if you would provide one fact to back up your opinion. It sounds wildly off-base to me. I grew up in the South, where we had, and sometimes still have, really race-based political races. I didn’t see that at all in this one. So I don’t by your explanation. But I’d be interested if you have any facts to support it, or are you just pulling it out of thin air?



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Chris

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:34 pm


Wait, isn’t the entire post facts Dooley?



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R. Pointer

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:38 pm


@Dooley,
Well if the poll going in says one thing about Obama’s lead and the vote in the booth says another, then you have a discrepancy. The social environment of a caucus doesn’t allow for people to hide their true feelings. Those are called facts Dooley. Buy the way, do you by that? Bi, bye!



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Scientific

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:46 pm


He’s not pulling it out of thin air, Dooley. Is it really that hard to consider? Racism isn’t limited to the South, never was. And unless someone’s spouting a slur or spraying us with firehoses, people never seem to believe that racism could be an explanation. You can’t be that naive.



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Doug

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:53 pm


I guess I’d say a couple of things. The polls going into the 2004 election showed Kerry winning. Part of the problem is polling the people who will show up. Anyone who didn’t vote for Obama based on race alone is a sorry fool and I’m sure it happened but hopefully not much. The other thing I’d say is that Barak Obama being competitive in New Hampshire is a sign of positive change already. As I’m typing this, Obama is giving one impressive speech. The concession part hasn’t happened yet, but it’s an exciting speech.



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Doug

posted January 8, 2008 at 10:58 pm


Interesting that he went with “si se puede.”



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Jason

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:17 pm


Race-gap polling problems is a possibility for explaining the discrepancy, but to jump to this explanation after just one state, especially after the exact opposite phenomenon happened in Iowa (Obama vastly outperforming the polling) in a state that is just as homogeneously white strikes me as superficial thinking that stems from a cynicism about human nature rather than rational analysis.
Polling is fallible, and does not predict who will show up to the polls, how undecided voters will break, how effective each candidate’s get-out-the-vote organization is in each state, and so on. Look, you may be right, but I think it’s way too early to jump to this conclusion. If anything, I think more people will be positively influenced by Obama’s race than turned off by it.



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Tiffany

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:27 pm


A voting booth is almost like a confessional. You get to state your true feelings without fear of being judged for them. The Iowa Caucus was a different environment because there wasn’t any anonymity to the process. No black person alive is surprised by these results, believe me.



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Larry Parker

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:43 pm


It also happened in Virginia in 1989.
Doug Wilder was favored in the polls to win the governor’s election overwhelmingly. It turned out to be — until 2006′s Allen/Webb imbroglio — the closest election in the history of the Old Dominion.



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converse

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:44 pm


I get the caucus/public vs. primary/private part, but I don’t understand why people would lie to pollsters in the first place. The call is probably private; it’s not like someone’s going to call them racist if they tell a pollster Clinton instead of Obama. What’s the motivation?



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frankie d

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:49 pm


david,
thank you for being honest and forthright and dealing with this issue.
most commentators will try to finesse the issue and ignore it and speak around it. you deserve a good deal of credit for dealing with it in an up-front way.
thanks.



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vox

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:49 pm


I agree with Tiffany. I’ve been trying to tell my white friends to expect something like this. We’ve been too busy congratulating ourselves because Iowa was willing to vote for a black man. People declared racism dead. Just crazy stuff. The pundits, who usually never hesitate to speculate, are doggedly refusing to raise race as an issue in all the post mortems of the N.H. primary. It is not as though we haven’t seen this before. It’s a fairly consistent phenomena: whites, who may not want to appear racist, say they are going to vote for black candidates and then don’t follow through. That will be the problem all the way to the election. As long as these contests are decided by secret ballot, Obama will never know how he’s really doing. This is pretty dicey business for Democrats.



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The Bag of Health and Politics

posted January 8, 2008 at 11:51 pm


I just don’t see it as valid anymore. Maryland’s Senate race indicates that it isn’t there, as Michael Steele won a few of the states most conservative and white areas by larger margins than the incumbent white Governor that was his running mate.
Further, the shift in New Hampshire was among women. They were clearly effected by the teary moment. I suspect that was campaign stage craft–and masterful campaign stage craft at that. The over reaction to it caused women to break decidedly towards Clinton. What was a 35-30 win among women for Obama in Iowa was a 47-32 win for Clinton in New Hampshire. That is certainly not the Bradley effect.
Nevada will get less attention than IA/NH. South Carolina will get a lot of attention. And that is the real test. If Obama wins solidly there, he once again has the momentum going into Super Tuesday and New Hampshire will be a distant memory and blip on the radar screen. If he doesn’t, then Clinton is the likely nominee. Clinton can’t skip SC because it would infuriate the black community.
Further, there will be heavy pressure on Edwards to drop out after Nevada. If he does, that unifies the anti-Clinton vote (a solid 65% of the party through two contests) around Obama and makes it extremely difficult for her to win.
Clinton won the battle, but she also lost an excuse to skip South Carolina (money). And in so doing, she may have lost the war…



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tex

posted January 9, 2008 at 12:12 am


This should be comeuppance for those erudite, liberal democrats who think they are enlightened beacons of equality and that Republicans are Neanderthals when it comes to race.
White Democrats have always been and will continue to be hypocrites of the worst sort when it comes to race.
Thank you, New Hampshire, for resurrecting the easiest Democrat to defeat in November!



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Arthur

posted January 9, 2008 at 12:40 am


David,
I just googled the Bradley effect and you are just about the only one out there willing to talk about this.
The Bradley effect may not be a matter of lying to pollsters as much as having a racially motivated second thought in the polling booth. This says something about America I dont really want to think about, but must.
I will not be voting Democrat so it doesnt effect me directly this time. I value the unborn of every race too much. Still, it should give us pause that so many of even the most liberal are still harboring racism in their heart. The women of NH were given the choice of radical feminism and something new and fresh, something that would change the face of America forever and they pulled the racist lever.
If Condi were running, I would vote for her early and often–if she were prolife, which I am not sure about. I would vote for Clarence
Thomas, too, if he had Presidential skills. At least he is pro-life now that he is back in the Catholic Church and out of ECUSA.



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Elrod

posted January 9, 2008 at 12:43 am


Why did only white women fall for the Bradley effect? White men in NH voted for Obama by 12 points. Bradley effect doesn’t explain it. Anger at media mysogyny did it.



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jmnyc

posted January 9, 2008 at 12:49 am


I am not sure about the Bradley effect here. I don’t doubt racism still exists or that some people lie to pollsters. However, it was interesting in 2006 that both MA Gov Deval Patrick, who won, and Harold Ford, who lost in Tennessee, got very close to what they polled in the end. I don’t think the Bradley effect is nearly as big a problem as it once was.



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Donny

posted January 9, 2008 at 12:55 am


HELLO! The press – The Leftist propagandists – tried the same thing with the ’04 Presidential election. “Exit polls” had Kerry winning every vote in America. Or so it would be portrayed to influence voters in polling places not yet closed. Interesting to note, that “the poor,” are the poorest in inner-cities, that are run by Democrats. Care to walk the Southside of Chicago after dusk? Downtown LA a block or two off of Wilshire? East LA? Hey! Whadda you know, no problems with the poor in Beverly Hills, Malibu, or the Hamptons!!! Etc., etc., etc. . . where the wealthy liberals gather en masse.



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Donny

posted January 9, 2008 at 1:00 am


Wait a minute, I thought that New Hampshire was in one of those “progressive” East Coast states? I have yet to see hypocrisy from conservatives that even comes close to anything actually perpetrated by Liberal/Progressive/Democrats. I guess the drive for Marxism is just too strong for these East Coasters.



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melissafrei

posted January 9, 2008 at 1:12 am


David, I must say that I forgot about this phenomenon and I am glad that you brought this idea into the discourse. I saw this happen first hand in North Carolina with Jessie Helms. No one ever voted for this man, but he was the Senior Senator in North Carolina for thirty years.
I hope that this is not the explanation for what occurred this evening, but it is worth looking at.
http://melissafrei.wordpress.com/



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Arthur

posted January 9, 2008 at 1:14 am


Racist white feminists are going to kill the Democratic party’s opportunity to end the racist history of this country. Bradley, shame on them.



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Herb

posted January 9, 2008 at 4:13 am


When every body was talking about how race didn’t make a difference in Iowa they were wrong. Iowa was different because in a caucus you have to defend your vote in front of other people. It’s public. No one is going to express racial problems in public. But when it’s just a person and their voting booth, the numbers are very different. The Bradley effect is very much a part of this election.



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dk

posted January 9, 2008 at 4:48 am


I think the bradley effect is relevant here although i don’t necessarily equate telling a pollster one thing then voting differently with racism. some of these people may just be uncomfortable with revealing their preference for the white candidate, even if it is for valid, substantive reasons. i DO think its a big problem that many people aren’t comfortable just saying how they will be voting when being polled. that, however, requires a much more thorough and profound psychological/sociological analysis than just citing racism of the voter alone.



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Kip

posted January 9, 2008 at 6:09 am


Is it only white women who are racists? that Obama won by 11 points among men. (Which in New Hampshire equals white men.) That’s a huge margin. Women didn’t push Hillary “over the top”; on the contrary it’s a total battle royale of the sexes.



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Carolyn Paetow

posted January 9, 2008 at 6:47 am


Rather than the Bradley Effect, I believe the real problem is racial fear. Some white people begin to worry about putting a black man in a powerful position, and, by the time they vote, they give in to their unease and go with the white candidate. The press was talking about black people in the South voting monolithically for Obama, which might unaccountably scare white people who are not totally comfortable with interracial relations. I wondered if Obama’s endorsement by Oprah and his statement that he would like to nominate Colin Powell to a cabinet position might hurt him, and it might well have done so. She had never endorsed anyone for President before, and Powell is a Republican, who also got very close to an endorsement. It looked very racial.



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STeven

posted January 9, 2008 at 7:53 am


Furthermore, I have no doubt that several those who indicated in polling that they would support Obama were genuinely intent on voting for Obama at the time of the poll, but once in the privacy of the their voting booth, they couldn’t go through with it, voting for a coloured man was simply too unnatural for them. The possibility of the reality of a black president would have suddenly overwhelmed them and they would give in to to all their fears and insecurities of the stepping into unchartered territory, and they would opt for the white candidate, the ‘safe, tried and tested natural choice’



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Anonymous

posted January 9, 2008 at 8:31 am


Might it be possible that people did not vote for Mr. Obama because his platitudes have worn too thin? Might it be possible that people in New Hampshire voted for Ms. Clinton because they believe she’s a better candidate? Where was the suggestion of covert sexism when Ms. Clinton lost in Iowa? Or is sexism okay?



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Voter

posted January 9, 2008 at 8:33 am


Might it be possible that people did not vote for Mr. Obama because his platitudes have worn too thin? Might it be possible that people in New Hampshire voted for Ms. Clinton because they believe she’s a better candidate? Where was the suggestion of covert sexism when Ms. Clinton lost in Iowa? Or is sexism okay?



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jason

posted January 9, 2008 at 9:14 am


In terms of racism at the voting poll, it is hard to reconcile with the fact that Obama received record setting numbers. It just seems that Hillary was also able to receive a little bit more of these record setting numbers. Not very surprising considering the political environment and the name, money and organization of Hillary Clinton.



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Anonymous

posted January 9, 2008 at 11:13 am


A lot of us are not surprised at the Bradley effect and the racial aspects of the voting.
Yes, I am sorry to say, I think middle age white women in NH were being racist…middle age women tend to be much more suspicious of black men…don’t know why



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kadinka

posted January 9, 2008 at 11:57 am


The glaring problem with the Bradley effect explanation is that Obama got pretty much the numbers that the polls predicted. (Check your own links above.) Voters did not switch from Obama to Clinton, but rather from the other candidates to Clinton.
This is a pretty obvious, basic, simple fact that can be discovered by comparing the poll numbers to the actual results. Why not do this before writing racist dreck?



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Marc Robbins

posted January 9, 2008 at 1:46 pm


This citing of the “Bradley effect” is perniciously false. It false because the poll numbers belie it. Obama got close to the percentage in most of the pre-primary polls. Even more to the point, the New Hampshire exit poll showed 36%, perfectly matching what he actually got. Obviously, you can’t have a Bradley effect if voters honestly tell pollsters what they just did in the polling booth.
It’s pernicious because this idea, if it gets planted in people’s brains, can do terrible damage. It could reenforce a false image of the level of racism in this country with the tragic effect of hurting the black candidate’s chances.
Everyone who has a megaphone, like you do, who offers up this thought has a moral obligation to update and clarify your comments. You *must* acknowledge that there was *no* trace of any so-called effect in the New Hampshire primary!



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louis

posted January 9, 2008 at 3:00 pm


“A lot of us are not surprised at the Bradley effect and the racial aspects of the voting.
Yes, I am sorry to say, I think middle age white women in NH were being racist…middle age women tend to be much more suspicious of black men…don’t know why”
I totally agree. When they say Obama lost to gender, they leave out that he the white gender.



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Anonymous

posted January 9, 2008 at 7:55 pm


I think it may also be that a lot of women (myself included) are disgusted with the type of coverage Hillary was getting in the media in the days coming up to the primary. It goes beyond disagreeing with her policies. A lot of people have a visceral hatred for her, and yeah, I think misogyny and how we expect women to behave is a big part of it.
Women may have felt that they needed to “vote against” that kind of thinking.
I support Obama (even though his lack of substance has been disappointing me lately), but even I feel this impulse, even though I don’t think I be swayed to vote for her by it.



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Anonymous

posted January 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm


White men do not fear getting raped by black men. White women do. White women have a viceral fear of black men. Though a conservative myself, I was talking with one of my very liberal female friends the other day and she was talking about how afraid she was one night when she had to walk past a group of young black men at night. Then she caught herself and was a bit apologetic. I told her jokingly. “Hey it’s okay to be racist if you are a woman.” There you have it in a nutshell. Women who are liberal think they are immune to racism because they are so open minded. But their open mindedness runs amazingly right along with their own selfish self interest. So, in the minds of many white women, “it’s okay to be racist if you are a woman.”



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Larry Parker

posted January 9, 2008 at 9:49 pm


kadinka and MR:
Your theory depends on the supposition that huge numbers of putative Edwards voters switched to Clinton at the last minute.
Which strikes me as preposterous.



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El Grande

posted January 9, 2008 at 10:03 pm


Clinton gave the nation’s highest civilian award — the Presidential Medal of Freedom — to a man who spent the vast majority of his public career and life as a proud segregationist.
1. Bill Clinton interned for J. William Fulbright in 1966-67, when Fulbright was still a segregationist. Fulbright became Clinton’s “mentor.”
2. In April 1985, Governor Bill Clinton signed Act 985 into law, making the birthdates of Martin Luther King Jr. (the preeminent leader of the civil-rights movement) and Robert E. Lee (the general who led the Confederate army) state holidays on the same day. Of course, the word “segregation” never passed Clinton’s considerable lips, but the (uncoded) message he was sending to certain of his white constituents could not have be clearer.
3. Clinton took no steps during his twelve years as governor to repeal a Confederate flag law: Arkansas Code Annotated, Section 1-5-107, provides as follows:
(a) The Saturday immediately preceding Easter Sunday of each year is designated as ‘Confederate Flag Day’ in this state.
(b) No person, firm, or corporation shall display an Confederate flag or replica thereof in connection with any advertisement of any commercial enterprise, or in any manner for any purpose except to honor the Confederate States of America. [Emphasis added.]
(c) Any person, firm, or corporation violating the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000).
In 1989, then-Gov. Bill Clinton was sued as one of three top Arkansas officials responsible for the intimidation of black voters in his state as part of a legal action brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, NewsMax.com has learned.
And a year earlier the U.S. Supreme court ruled that Clinton had wrongfully tried to overturn the election of a black state representative in favor of a white Democrat.
In a related 1988 case, Clinton had tried to replace a duly elected African-American state representative with a white candidate, only to be stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruling came as the then-governor was fighting another court battle to preserve racial profiling in his state, a tool that Clinton later criticized while president as a “morally indefensible, deeply corrosive practice.”
But a decade earlier he approved the profiling of Hispanics by Arkansas State Police as part of a drug interdiction program in 1988, the Washington Times revealed in 1999.
“The Arkansas plan gave state troopers the authority to stop and search vehicles based on a drug-courier profile of Hispanics, particularly those driving cars with Texas license plates,” the Times said.
“A federal judge later ruled the program unconstitutional,” the paper reported. “A lawsuit and a federal consent decree ended the practice – known as the ‘criminal apprehension program’ the next year.”
Then-Gov. Clinton, however, not only criticized the profiling ban; “at one point, [he] threatened to reinstate the program despite the court’s ruling,” the Times said.
Hearing Clinton’s condemnation of racial profiling in 1999, Roberto Garcia de Posada, executive director of the Hispanic Business Roundtable, complained that the then-president “had been a strong supporter of racial profiling against Hispanics in the past.”
After he was sued in the late 1980s by the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund for failing to enforce the Voting Rights Act in Arkansas, then-Gov. Bill Clinton suggested to a group of pro-segregation whites that they were being unfairly targeted by civil rights laws as a result of the South’s loss in the Civil War.
“The meeting turned sour when one of the local whites demanded to know why, in his view, the whites were always made to pay for others’ problems. Other whites in the group began to echo his charge. …” “Bill Clinton, the lead defendant in the case, took to the podium to respond. In a tone of resignation, Clinton said, ‘We have to pay because we lost.’” Clinton was referring to the South’s Civil War loss.
Bill Clinton spent Wednesday afternoon playing golf at a country club accused of discriminating against blacks and Jews. Jake Siewert, Clinton’s rep, confirmed it was the second time Clinton has played at the Indian Creek Country Club about 20 miles north of Miami. He first played there a year and a half ago. Siewert said, “All venues are fully vetted,” and dismissed allegations of racism and anti-Semitism as “not true.”
“There’s no question about it, the club has anti-Semitic policies in place to keep out Jews,” said Earl Barber, who was on the club’s board for 14 years, and a member for 22. Barber, along with Alvah Chapman, a former chairman of Knight Ridder, and M. Anthony Burns, a trucking magnate, resigned their club memberships because of its “membership policies.”
To add insult to injury, 14 of the island’s 34 homes are owned by Jews, and although they are denied access to the club, a portion of the residents’ property tax is used for the club’s upkeep. Miller notes that he refused to meet Clinton during his 1999 visit to Indian Creek because the president was playing at the anti-Semitic club. The snub even made the local news.
When Jeb Bush was slated to pay a visit to the club, Miller informed the Florida governor of the restrictive policies, and Bush cancelled.



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Jennifer

posted January 10, 2008 at 12:17 am


“White men do not fear getting raped by black men. White women do. White women have a viceral fear of black men.”
As a white woman married to a black man with black male children, I’ve got to tell you a blanket statement like that is wrong and offensive.
And I don’t personally fear rape anymore than I fear being murdered or being a car accident.
Speak for yourself.
“Though a conservative myself, I was talking with one of my very liberal female friends the other day and she was talking about how afraid she was one night when she had to walk past a group of young black men at night. Then she caught herself and was a bit apologetic. I told her jokingly. “Hey it’s okay to be racist if you are a woman.”
I don’t see how lib or con politics play into this.
What do you want, someone to tell you that visceral fear of someone based on their race is right or justified? It isn’t.
“There you have it in a nutshell. Women who are liberal think they are immune to racism because they are so open minded. But their open mindedness runs amazingly right along with their own selfish self interest. So, in the minds of many white women, “it’s okay to be racist if you are a woman.””
So you’re saying white women fear black men, or Barack Obama specifically, are going to rape them if they pass them on the street, and therefore they don’t vote for him because that way the crime will be averted?
Because that’s what I’m getting from this post.



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Rachel

posted January 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm


I was appauled at this obvious white woman’s views on black men. I’m sorry but our black men do not go around raping white women. Last time I checked, white men, black men, hispanics, asians, etc have all committed crimes against women. There’s one in every race maam. You obviously have a serious issue and clearly a racist!



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Hazel

posted March 6, 2008 at 8:49 am


To the Author of: “White men do not fear getting raped by black men. White women do. White women have a viceral fear of black men…..”
Madam (if you are a woman), I am a black woman. I would be afraid to walk past a group of young white men hanging out at night. Men are men. A rapist, thief, murderer, serial killer, child molester, wife abuser, etc. is not predetermined by the color of one’s skin. (neither is a racist – racism occurs among humans and will continue until they evolve intellectually to another level.) I am so sorry that you think the way that you do. Try not to pass the hate on to your children. By the way, white men wantonly raped black women at will during and after slavery. But, black, yellow, red (pick your color) men would have done the same thing under similar circumstances.



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lokpbai

posted August 15, 2008 at 4:17 am


Hello to members of this site please to have joined your forum.



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