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There has been some talk about Obama's 'white voter problem'.  Can he win white voters against Clinton? Will he be able to win white voters against McCain?  Yet, he still does curiously well in states like Iowa and Kansas and North Dakota, states not known for their large non-white communities.  So, now that we have all sorts of exit poll data, and census data to match it up with, where does Obama do well among white voters?

So, the hypothesis is that Obama does well among white voters in states with few African-Americans.  To test this, let's arrange the states with exit polls asking race and voting in order of their White:Black ratio (that is, number of non-Hispanic whites for every African American).  Beside that is the percentage of the two-candidate white vote received by Obama (i.e. the percent of the white vote received by Obama compared to the total white vote received by Obama and Clinton), according to CNN exit polls.

(Also, do note that many of the states without polls - largely caucus states - are also rather white, and were won by Obama.)


Vermont 137 (61%)
New Hampshire 85 (48%)
Utah 83 (58%)
Oregon 83 (58%)
West Virginia 29 (25%)

Wins: 3
Losses: 1
W/I MOE: 1

Average white vote: 50%


BETWEEN 5:1 and 20:1

Arizona 16 (42%)
Wisconsin 14 (55%)
Rhode Island 13 (37%)
Kentucky 12 (24%)
Massachusetts 12 (41%)
Indiana 9 (40%)
Oklahoma 9 (34%)
Pennsylvania 8 (37%)
Nevada 7 (40%)
Connecticut 7 (49%)
Missouri 7 (41%)
Ohio 7 (35%)
California 4 (49%)

Wins: 1
Losses: 10
W/I MOE: 2

Average white vote: 40%


BETWEEN 1:1 and 5:1

Arkansas 5 (17%)
Tennessee 5 (28%)
Illinois 4 (45%)
New Jersey 4 (32%)
Texas 4 (44%)
New York 3 (39%)
Virginia 3 (53%)
Delaware 3 (42%)
North Carolina 3 (38%)
Alabama 3 (26%)
South Carolina 2 (40%)
Louisiana 2 (34%)
Maryland 2 (45%)
Georgia 2 (45%)
Mississippi 2 (27%)

Wins: 1
Losses: 14
W/I MOE: 0

Average white vote: 37%

(AR and TN round up to, but are less than, 5.)


Some comments: In states with a high White:Black ratio, Obama does well among whites (WV excepted - an Appalachian exceptionalism argument would not be tough to sustain).  In states with a low ratio, Obama does quite poorly.  Indeed, the 'gap' between the high group and the low group is 13%.

Without offering any more commentary, and more offering it as a chance to comment, why might this be?

Originally posted to Northern Sky on Mon May 26, 2008 at 06:15 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This comment is a jar. (6+ / 0-)

    This jar is a comment.

    •  Some of your wins/losses are in correct & (0+ / 0-)

      You repeated states (like Virginia).

      For the record Obama won Conneticut, Missouri, Wisconsin and barely lost Nevada & Indiana.

      You have him down for losses with those 3 states, when he didn't.

      You also have him down for losses in Virginia, NC, SC, Deleware and MD. Something must be wrong with your post, or I'm mis-reading it or something.

      Secondly you have to qualify your statement with "in the primary", or "earlier in the primary".

      Cause as you know primary results don't translate to general election results.

      Also Obama is beating Clinton & McCain in states he lost such as NY, NJ, CA, Mich (if you wanna count that), etc.

      So be careful what you post (if I can say that).

      •  This guy just assumed Obama lost certain states (0+ / 0-)

        Then posted this, as if it was so accurate and well studied. But anyone who followed the campaign this year, would know Obama won Missouri, Conneticut,Maryland, Wisconsin, Virginia, N.Carolina, S. Carolina and Georgia. When your He should of won Indiana (GOP), Nevada and New Mexico, but thats a whole nother story. Lol.

        No offense to the diarist, who I know put good work into this.

  •  Have you looked at the order of the contests? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, koNko

    Which primaries occurred before and after the reverend Wright story broke?

  •  Those of us in lilly white states (Iowa) don't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, koNko

    have a lot of prejudice because we just don't see the ecnomic competition between low income people.  We don't see color as much because we don't see color.

    Once we get into states where color does matter, stereotypes take over.  I just think it is hard to be racist when the only person of color most of us know is part of the family.  :)

    We don't have any of the feeling of us vs them.  Plus, Obama still will offer more than Clinton.  It wasn't a three way race with Obama losing.  it was against an incredible candidate, HRC.  Race may have only been part of it.

  •  Because "White" people are diverse. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, get the red out, shann

    They come from many different heritages and histories.  Lumping them all together for this kind of analysis ignores a lot of data.

    •  So are black people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, Transient Smitty

      but that doesn't stop pundits and others from lumping us together as well.

      I don't count. Just ask Hillary.

      by Ambboogie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:03:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Unfortunately,,,, (0+ / 0-)

        That is true technically but not in the same sense. African american diversity has been decimated by severed ancestral ties to their homeland. American immigrants maintained these diverse cultural roots because they were not taken as captives. It is not meant to be denigrating towards blacks, it is simply a regrettable part of history. But i would say that culturally (meaning in terms of ethnicity, known ancestral heritage and religious background) 'whites' are more... different? This also has to do with the simple fact that there are about 5 or 6 times as many whites. ...Lets just all agree that Hispanics are the most diverse of us all,

        •  No dice. (0+ / 0-)

          African Americans/Blacks include people from Caribbean countries and countries in Africa as voluntary immigrants as well.

          Many Blacks/African Americans have regional and cultural differences on top of their origin differences.

          I'm not going to argue with you about what ill-labeled color group is more diverse, because I know many people who would disagree with you about whites being so 'different'.

          I also don't agree with labeling Hispanics as the 'most diverse' group asserts anything more truthful.

          I don't count. Just ask Hillary.

          by Ambboogie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 09:17:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  For every country you can name that the US... (0+ / 0-)

            has a black immigrant from, I can name one that we have a white immigrant from. And a Hispanic immigrant. And more total immigrants in general. This argument is pointless anyway. Why is everyone in competition to be more diverse? Like the most diverse group wins or something. Saying one group is more diverse means little.... there are way more whites and more hispanics, it only follos that there are more differences withing those groups simply due to numbers. Let's agree to diagree then.

    •  "All" people are diverse. (0+ / 0-)

      Sometimes, maybe often, I read incredibly racist remarks on this site written by people who would be outraged if I made equivelent remarks, assumptions or conclusions subsituting "Black", "White" or "Hispanic" for "Chinese", or more to the point, "Han Chinsese".

      It's just a fact of life I deal with. It wouldn't do me any good to let myself become embittered by it, so most of the time I accept it and just let it pass.

      Some people won't vote for Obama because he's AA. A lot of those people won't even think about how or why they justify that, they will just think their thoughts and hold their opinions.

      Fortunately, the majority of Americans are pretty aware and fair nowadays so I'm confident he can will if we support him.

      When harmonious relationships dissolve, respect and devotion arise; when a nation falls to chaos, loyalty and patriotism are born - Daodejing (paraphrased)

      by koNko on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:13:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ha-ha: "Han Chinsese". (0+ / 0-)

        The "s" and "n" keys are too close together!

        When harmonious relationships dissolve, respect and devotion arise; when a nation falls to chaos, loyalty and patriotism are born - Daodejing (paraphrased)

        by koNko on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:28:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  What do the "Wins" and "Losses" mean? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, koNko

    The White Vote?

  •  Can this be right? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, koNko

    You define the "White:Black ratio" as the "number of non-Hispanic African-Americans for every African American." Can that be right?

    •  Good catch. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


    •  For the record I don't know how the census does (0+ / 0-)


      But they're are a lot of black hispanics, and folks from the Caribbean (for-example) in the NY area.

      Many Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Panamanians (who mostly came from Jamaica to build the canal)Hondurans, Belizeans, Cubans, Brazilians and Venezuelans, etc., are straight up black!

      But it all depends on how they/the government define themselves, their world knowledge, and how long they been in America and assimilated.

  •  Great Truth in What Boji and ManhattanMan... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Northern Sky, Bronx59

    ...have to say. In other words, they are both right.  

    Having lived in the northeast and midwest, in my opinion the differences are both regional and tribal.  

    Think of northeastern cities like New York, Philadelphia and Boston.  Very tribal, since European immigrants first hit Ellis Island. People went into their little "tribes" or ethnic enclaves because that's where they were comfortable and accepted. It created a mindset of us against them. Jews vs. Irish vs. Italins vs. Poles vs. everybody non-white, etc. Competition for jobs, resources and cultural hegemony bred resentments and prejudices that exist still today.

    In many parts of the midwest, at least historically, the ethnic issue wasn't dominant.  There were whites mismashed together, for the most part, and "others." The others were rare and isolated--blacks, American Indians, occasional Chinese.  There was less obsession among the dominant white population about one's "European heritage."

    Thus Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, the Dakotas, the old ethnic "sores" either don't exist or are at such a low ebb in comparison to the northeast or a place like Chicago that nobody remembers it.  There is no history of blacks being the enemy or competition for social standing and economic resources with blacks.

    •  Let us note that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Northern Sky, koNko

      the state that I live in, IN, only was won by less than 1% for Hillary Clinton.  And there are a good amount of black folks who live in IN.

      I don't count. Just ask Hillary.

      by Ambboogie on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:05:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Tribal northeasern cities" rings a bell (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Northern Sky, Bronx59

      when I think of sports.

      Anybody who is not living in the northeast know an avid Red Sox fan?  

      Tribal sums up the "back east" flavor very nicely.  A strong social bond and sense of collective historic identity and pride that is distinctive to the region.  Not necessarily racial, but racists can exploit it.

      In a democracy, the most important office is the office of citizen.- Louis Brandeis

      by crystal eyes on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:21:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hate to say it, but I think the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katieforeman, koNko, brooklynbadboy

    reason one sees Obama doing exceedingly well in states with predominantly white voters can be summed up in one word, "education".  It appears Obama connects very well with well educated voters, but not so well with less and/or uneducated voters. It is a mystery to me

    •  That, and prosperity. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You look at places where white people are well educated and aren't broke, and in those places Obama is very competite.

      Now, If I'm Obama, I'm probably thinking like this:

      I need ALL the black votes.
      I need damn near all the white people who are smart.
      I need damn near all the hispanic votes.
      I need a healthy chunk of all the white people who are doing well.
      And if I do that, THEN, all I need is a small chunk of the white people who are poor and ignorant.

      Thats the working majority he has to build. I don't think he has much of a shot winning over the true redneck vote, not until he's had a chance to prove himself in office.

      If he does a good job, however, at least some of the rednecks will give him their votes on the merits.

      I'm black, and therefore automatically vote exclusively for black candidates. You're white and choose only based on the issues.

      by brooklynbadboy on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:26:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So (0+ / 0-)

    Obama would not have a white voter problem if there were not blacks?  WTF?

    Before: "America Rising" - John Edwards we are with you. - After - Not This Time - Barack Obama we are with you!

    by totallynext on Mon May 26, 2008 at 07:28:42 AM PDT

  •  I don't know what the answer is (0+ / 0-)

    but I know what the question should be:

    What is the difference between Mississippi and South Carolina?

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