The route was not just among old, Deep South, unreconstructed or latent bigoted white male voters, but in virtually every voter demographic among whites, including a dead heat with Obama among a majority of younger white voters. This doesn't tell the whole story of the sharp divide Obama still faces. A sizeable percentage of whites were disgusted enough with Bush's policies to stay home on Election Day, but not disgusted enough with him and his policies to vote for Obama. The Henry Louis Gates affair and the right's town hall rabble rousing made more voters wary of Obama's policies. Polls after the Gates outburst showed that a majority of whites condemned Obama for backing Gates and, even more ominously, expressed big doubts about his policies.
A painful reality is that the crushing majority of independents who oppose Obama or disavow his policies for racial, party, ideological reasons or personal prejudices, are a solid backbone of the GOP's counter insurgency against him. The New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in November showed that except for a handful of counties with the big cities with a majority of young, liberal, and minority voters, the GOP swept all the counties. That should have set bells and whistles clanging among Democrat's that Obama's presidential victory was a mile wide but an inch deep, and that trouble was brewing over Obama's continued pander to Wall Street and the big banks and his diddle on mounting a full court press on the economy. The bells and whistles didn't clang. Top Democrats and pundits sloughed off the gubernatorial losses as an aberration or chalked it up to weak, corrupt or discredited Democratic candidates.
That's not the case with Brown's win. It was clearly about Obama. Obama lost the state long before his win.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is, How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge (Middle Passage Press) will be released in January 2010.
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