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Note: I'm the author of a new book, Barack Obama: This Improbable Quest, but I'm not part of the Obama campaign.

According to the exit polls, West Virginia's voters revealed that they are the most racist in the country so far in the Democratic primaries. Fully 21% of the voter consisted of whites who reported that race was a factor, and they voted for Clinton 84-9 over Obama. That's a total racist vote of 19%, exceeding the racist vote in all of the previous primaries with exit polls, and going far above the 13.7% in Arkansas, the most racist state before now in this election.

The exit poll asked whether Obama shares the views of Jeremiah Wright. Half of the West Virginia voters polled said that he did (20% a lot, 30% somewhat). Of those who thought Obama shares the views of Wright "a lot", they voted 88-3 for Clinton. That's an astonishing number, and it overlaps greatly with the voters admitting racism. It reflects one vision of racists, that all black people think alike. But the influence of the Rev. Wright  case suggests that "iceberg racism" (the racism beneath the surface) is also strongly affecting voting.

What may be most remarkable about these figures is that they show how little history matters in racism. Remember, West Virginia was created as a state during the Civil War when it broke away from Virginia and rejected the Confederacy to remain part of the Union. However, it's not clear if this separation really indicated the people's views, but West Virginia was admitted to the Union in 1862 with the requirement that it gradually eliminate slavery.

So why is West Virginia more racist than the former Confederate states? One reason might be lack of contact with blacks. The exit polls indicated that voters were 95% white, and only 3% black. Whites may hold on to bigotry when they rarely encounter blacks and do not have their stereotypes challenged. However, Obama has done very well in other all-white states, including Iowa and Vermont.

Perhaps it reflects economics. West Virginia (like the second most racist state, Arkansas) tends to be a poor white-dominated state. In the face of poverty, many people don't cling to guns or religion. They cling to racism.

The Republican Party's rise to power in recent decades has largely depended upon the fact that impoverished whites blame blacks rather than corporations for their problems. Without these racist whites, Republicans such as Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush could never have won. The biggest hope for the future of the Democratic Party is the dying off of the old racists who helped bring the Republicans to power. But West Virginia skews very old, and poorly educated, which is the worst possible demographic for Obama.

By contrast with race, gender was a key factor helping Hillary Clinton. Overall 18% of the voters said gender was a factor, and they supported Clinton 73-22. Incredibly, among the men who said gender was a factor in their voting, they also supported Clinton 59-34. This indicates that bigotry can be a divided concept. White people, and even white men, can support a female candidate enthusiastically while simultaneously revealing their dislike of black people.

But it's also possible that Hillary Clinton's success at overcoming the sexism that I believe is out there can be attributed to "sponsorship." Hillary Clinton can get the vote of men, and even sexist men, because she has a well-liked white man, Bill Clinton, vouching for her and giving her strong support. If so, the question becomes whether the support of Obama by prominent white men (including Bill Clinton) might help offset the bigotry that's so apparent.

As for the Limbaugh Effect, only 4% of the voters in West Virginia called themselves Republicans, too small for reporting details of their voting. From my calculations, though, Clinton won only about 60% of the Republican vote, better than she did among Independents but less than her margin among Democrats. So the Limbaugh Effect was less than 1% in West Virginia. However, Limbaugh did not aggressively push for Republican voting in West Virginia, which has a closed primary.

As the West Virginia primary shows us, in many parts of the country racism is alive and well and controlling our political process. Many commentators assume that Obama's success with the young and well-educated is due to some "elitist" support he has among the latte-sipping crowd. The real reason is racism. Younger people are less likely to embrace racist views. Well-educated people are less likely to embrace racist views. And that makes all the difference in America, where the continuing significance of race can be measured with alarming detail in West Virginia's primary.

Crossposted at ObamaPolitics and Huffington Post.

Originally posted to JohnKWilson on Wed May 14, 2008 at 05:57 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  any evidence behind the huge accusation? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dhonig, Demi Moaned, marcirish

      race is a factor for a lot more than 17% of voters. it is certainly a factor for a vast majority of african americans and hispanics (like myself) who tend to overwhelmingly vote for candidates of our own races and ethnicities when we have the chance. why is it surprising or racist that 17% of whites do the same?

      please apologize to west virginians and take this diary down.

    •  By your logic (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      social liberal, Jezreel

      African-Americans who vote for Obama out of pride that a black candidate finally has a legitimate chance to become president are also racists.

      A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having // Swords Crossed

      by quaoar on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:15:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but their racism is manifest in a (0+ / 0-)

        positive way.

        That's ok, no?

        Or maybe this is somthing we shouldn't be talking about.  Let's just go to the mall.

      •  They also though Obama agreed with Rev. Wright. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        So...that makes them racist diposhits. The assumption that Obama grees with Wright, despite the mountains of evidnece to the contrary, combinded with the fact that they said "race was a factor" in tehir vote means tehy are racists.

        If they were just proud that a white woman was running and wanted to show solidarity, then that would be different.

        Nope. They are racist shitholes who don't desrve our praise or support.

        •  why is it racist? (0+ / 0-)

          maybe they just saw the one story on the evening news and saw the one story later where he denounced it (which all politicians do anyway and they discounted). unlike you and me, they did not spend hours online parsing through the mountains of evidence. most people just get their news in 30 second snipets. that does not make them racist.

          please people, stop using that word.

          •  You Cannot Tell From Exit Polling (0+ / 0-)

            You're completely right that the evidence provided in this diary is not conclusive for finding that West Virginia is "the most racist state".

            That being said, after speaking with many, many voters in Kentucky over the past week, I can assure you that racism is very much in play, at least here.  Many people are quite blunt about it.

            Others were a little less blunt, but their racism was still pretty apparent.

            You can have your "Under God" back when I get my "Liberty and Justice For All" back.

            by karateexplosions on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:59:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  that racism is alive and well in america.. (0+ / 0-)

              .. is beyond debate. and that obama has and will lose some votes because he is black is beyond debate.

              that is not what the diary says. hence i call bs.

              we need to stop accusing people who don't vote for obama as racist. it's divisive and stupid and it's going to hurt us. let's stop please. i have two daughters. i don't want to have to move to canada. we need to win this one.

          •  They are racist... (0+ / 0-)

            ...because they assummed Obama was lying. Either they didn't see the strong evidence he wasn't (because they are lazy, shiftless losers -- or because they didn't bother to investigate because he;s black and it must be true) -- or they assumed he was just posing because they assume all blacks think alike.

            There are no fucking excuses for these racist assholes. I'm tired of making them. I'm tired of giving these shitheads the benefit of the doubt. I'm tired of pandering to these motherfuckers.

            •  most americans, black or white, assume.. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              .. politicians are lying.

              look, there is no doubt a lot of racists are going to come out against obama. but to argue that the reason someone voted against obama is racism is absurd. even for the 17% who voted along racial lines, there is nothing racist per se about that. are some of them racist? probably. but the question itself says almost nothing about racism. calling them names is not going to help our cause.

      •  given theround level sentiment (0+ / 0-)

        and tone of this campaign on both sides, your logic doesn't hold. While , as just about anywhere, there will be those voters who prefer Clinton for a number of reasons, made up or true: experience, brand loyalty, electability, her "fighting" spirit, whatever - there are undoubtedly people who not only won't vote for Obama in the Primary, but won't vote in the general in a state nearly 60% Democrat. can some of it be explained away? sure. Folks in WV are poor, socially isolated, mostly uneducated, they have cultural values norms and traditions that are sometimes strange sometimes sneered at by people in other parts of the country. pejoratively, these folks are called "hillbillies."  They are in short, on the bottom of our White-skin caste, of course they're going to be resistant to a Black man in a role of leadership. It's impossible, for many, to see his success as anything but a loss of status for them. Because being a "hillbilly" sucks, but at the end of the day at they can comfortably hold on to Black inferiority. It's the kind of attitude among poor whites that's always been exploited for political gain. I wish i could teach some people, but it doesn't seem like some folks wanna learn. Until more folks are educated and economic conditions improve, this racism will stay deeply ingrained.

        ...and some marched, and some sat-in, and some were beaten, and some went to jail, and some died for freedom's cause. That's what hope is. -Barack Obama

        by phukhotfashion on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:43:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Perspective, buried near the end. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, forestgreen

    As the West Virginia primary shows us, in many parts of the country racism is alive and well and controlling our political process.

    I would change "many" to "all," frankly. I would challenge you to name a part of the country where racism is not alive and well.

    Also, we must be careful to avoid painting all Mountaineers with the racism brush, even if we accept your premise that the state has more than its share.

    "Not only do I want an elite president,
    I want someone who's embarrassingly superior to me."
    -- Jon Stewart, 4/15/08

    by pat208 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:02:24 AM PDT

  •  The 800-pound DINOsaur in the room (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, beltane, cybrestrike, Jezreel, Zebras

    This needed to be said.  Thank you for saying it.

    I really don't want an African-American as President...I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. - Clinton voter

    by Woodwards Friend on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:02:45 AM PDT

  •  Nonsense (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'd challenge you to find out how white Democrats in South Carolina and Mississippi voted. I'd bet it was even more lopsidedly against Obama than West Virginia was.

    •  interesting point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FishOutofWater, Jezreel

      MS: 26% white vote
      SC: 24% (with Edwards taking 40%, Hillary 36%)
      WV: 26%

      But then look at states like Virginia, where he took 52% of the white vote.

      Don't Legitimize Fox News.
      "Democrats have the heart to care."

      by jeepdad on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:17:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not comparable (0+ / 0-)

      SC had Edwards. MS has a lot of black people, so one would hope some of their whites are better accustomed to the idea of blacks in power.

      •  what about Idaho and Washington (0+ / 0-)

        There are no black people there and he crushed her there.

        If all Muslims are terrorists, all Catholics are child molesters.

        by rickrocket on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:24:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Different (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ID and WA are relatively progressive.

          What point is even trying to be made here?

          •  IDAHO?! (0+ / 0-)

            Idaho is "relatively progressive"?

            •  Compared to WV, sure (0+ / 0-)

              Now I expect that Boise (my only experience of the state) is a hippy-ridden love-in, at least contrasted to most of Idaho. But wasn't kos (and, of course, mcjoan) singing the praises of Idaho's politics a couple of months ago and their hopes for democratic in-roads there?

              •  Um, no (0+ / 0-)

                Compare Idaho's election results with West Virginia's. I'm not talking about just the Democratic primaries, either. There's no comparison. WV is a Democratic state and by rights ought to remain so in presidential elections were it not for general Democratic incompetence and ineffectual handwringing in the face of the last thirty years' attacks on the labor movement. Not so with Idaho.

                •  outside of Boise, (0+ / 0-)

                  Idaho is the most right-wing, Mormon, lily-white state in the union. When I lived in Idaho Falls, they canceled the 4th of July because it was on a Sunday, and celebrated it on Monday the 5th.  Idaho Falls is the 2nd largest city in Idaho (about 60,000) and it has about a 0.5% AA population.

                  If all Muslims are terrorists, all Catholics are child molesters.

                  by rickrocket on Wed May 14, 2008 at 08:19:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  My point (0+ / 0-)

        You're making an assumption without looking at the evidence. Past history would indicate that whites in South Carolina and Mississippi had many problems indeed with "the idea of blacks in power." Granted, most of those whites became Republicans. Obviously MS and SC have a high black population, no longer a majority (as blacks were in the 19th century), but significant. So my question is: if you look at the white vote alone -- the only proper comparison with lily-white West Virginia -- what do you see among Democratic primary voters?

        If you looked at that, I doubt you could conclude, as this diarist did, that West Virginia is "the most racist state."

  •  WV politicians failed them. They need our prayers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    How sad. How can they comepete in the real world with mindsets like that.

  •  The word racism needs to be banished from DKos... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leberquesgue, soros, quaoar

    ...until this election is over. this kind of simple minded diary is going to end up hurting us. no, it's not racist to vote for someone other than obama. not even if you vote for racial reasons. many, many people vote along racial lines and only some of them are white. it's normal. get over it. that's not what racism means.

    •  obviously you have ignored the exit polling. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      beltane, cybrestrike, tbounnak, Jezreel

      62169 - which apparently means A LOT.

      by jj24 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:08:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  please enlighten me? (0+ / 0-)

        did they ask any questions about racism??? that would be a first!!

        what is saw is that most whites voted for hilary. and some 17% said race was a factor. many, many african americans and hispanics (like myself) also vote along racial lines. and now, shockingly, you discover whites do too. are we all racist then? finally, something we can all unite about. faux racism.

        •  yeah, if race is a factor in your vote, you are (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Randian, cybrestrike, Jezreel, kfd313

          kind of racist by definition.. and of the 20% who said race was a factor (i believe that is the stat), 85% voted for HRC.

          you really don't seem to understand racism very well, or race-baiting either, apparently.  diminishing the reality of the statistic b/c you need a burning cross to call it racism is a little silly.  you insult millions of people who have struggled for centuries to be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character - and 1 in 5 - here in 2008 - voted racially?

          i don't know what there is to get that you don't, but i find it way more offensive that you wish to play this down as if it doesn't matter, than that the stat exists and we're talking about it.

          62169 - which apparently means A LOT.

          by jj24 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:26:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  kind of racist? (0+ / 0-)

            no no. don't hedge your bets man. tell me straight up.

            i am hispanic, part of a multi ethnic marriage with mixed race children. i am a die hard democrat who has worked religiously in every election since i got married here. i support affirmative action, civil rights, and diversity in my kids school and my own workplace. i despise racism in all it's forms. when given a choice between two well qualified candidates, i will likely vote for the one that is also hispanic.

            am i racist? yes or no. don't be afraid to stand for your principles man. just go with it.

            •  Look Deeper (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              you think because you are in a multi ethnic marriage and have multi ethnic children that you can't possibly be racist?

              If the choice you make between two equally qualified candidates is the  one who is of the same ethnicity as you and not because they are by way of their experience and positions the better of the two
              Guess what - you are racist

              We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitrolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people-MLK

              by digitalmuse on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:48:49 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  well - i guess i don't think so as much - (0+ / 0-)

                honestly, b/c there is a severe and disparate imbalance of power bewteen all other races and genders, and let's face it - white males, who control the lion's share of power and resources throughout the world.

                if voting for more diversity of representation is a priority - i don't know that that is racist as much as it's seeking to balance out a disparity.  

                however, white people voting for the white candidate because they fear diversity of representation; is racist.  and i don't think one can talk about racism fairly without addressing this imbalance.

                62169 - which apparently means A LOT.

                by jj24 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:53:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  why can't you answer the question?? (0+ / 0-)

                  i don't vote my ethnicity (when i do) in order to balance out any imbalance or because i want to fight the power. if i do it's only because i can relate to the candidate better.

                  ok, now, am i racist yes or no?

              •  fine, then i'm racist (0+ / 0-)

                and if i'm racist, then the word does not mean anything. you might as well be calling me a ham sandwich.

            •  it's "woman". ugh. (0+ / 0-)

              62169 - which apparently means A LOT.

              by jj24 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:49:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'm surprised this still needs to be pointed out (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Randian, tbounnak

          A Hispanic voting for a Hispanic candidate for reasons of racial/ethnic identification is challenging centuries of discrimination against people of color generally and Hispanics specifically in this country.

          A white candidate voting for a white candidate on the same grounds is reinforcing those same patterns.

          It's about history and power, not about "rooting" for your team.

          •  whites in west viriginia have power? (0+ / 0-)

            isn't that one of the poorest states? are there even many minorities there to oppress? there are counties in the US where hispanics or african americans are the majority. do we become racist then if we vote for our guys?

            also, no. i am not making any "fight the power" move when i vote hispanic. it's just that i identify better with the candidate and trust him/her more for some bizarre reason. it has zero to do with power.

            i am surprised you did not notice your interpretation of racism falls apart on the most cursory examination.

            •  I appreciate your honesty in confessing (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              to the "bizarre"ness of your own political choices.

              It's also helpful, I suppose, that you illustrate how little you know about the history of West Va specifically and how racism has operated in American politics generally.  

              West Va was part of a slaveholding state up the time of the Civil War and institutionalized racial segregation and disfranchisement afterwards--on the model of other Southern states.  So yes, "white people" in West Va have historically held power and exercised it to the detriment of people of color.  

              Does that make most of those white people rich and economically powerful?  Erm, no.  In fact, one argument about the political significance of race in this country is precisely that it operates to divide poor/working class people along racial/ethnic lines by providing some advantages--often more apparent than real--to poor and working class whites at the expense of people of color.

              •  i have a phd in the social sciences (0+ / 0-)

                one of the people that has done some of the seminal work on race and politics in america is a mentor of mine. don't be so condescending.

                WV is 95% white. politics are local. you really think whites voted to keep some unseen black people down? that's hogwash.

                and yes, sorry to burst your bubble. when i vote ethnicity, i do so for reasons that have nothing to do with retribution for centuries of oppression or any such things that are irrelevant to my present situation. i do so because i can relate to the candidate better. the vast majority of blacks do it for the same reason.

                •  this just goes to prove (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  there are PhD's and there are PhD's....

                  "Americans wish to be settled. Only so far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them" -Emerson.

                  by kfd313 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:24:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  as you sow, so shall you reap (0+ / 0-)

                  And so when you write things like this:

                  i am surprised you did not notice your interpretation of racism falls apart on the most cursory examination

                  you're really not in a position to complain about other people's condescension.

                  As for the substance--you're obviously either not reading or choosing not to respond to the substance of my comments, which never were about your intentions or about "unseen black people."  But if you haven't done so yet, you're clearly not going to.

                  Which is too bad, because from other comments on this thread I think we probably agree more than we disagree--if not about the definition of racism, then certainly about the usefulness of labeling an entire state and group of voters "most racist."  

                  •  i did not attack you as a person (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    did not call you ignorant or stupid. your interpretation of racism is simply wrong. i am sure you are otherwise a wonderful person.

                    your comments were definitely condescending but that is common in this site. everyone feels that they are the holders of the truth and that everyone who does not agree is either a willful troll, a racist, or an imbecile.

                    •  thanks for clarifying (0+ / 0-)

                      that you're not insulting or attacking me--because when you associate me with a bunch of people who think "everyone who who does not agree [with them] is either a willful troll, a racist, or an imbecile," I might be inclined to believe otherwise.  

                      On the other hand, your entire approach to public discussion seems very odd.  You accuse other people of thinking themselves "the holders of the truth"--right after you dismiss someone else's views on a controversial issue as "simply wrong."

                      Fact of the matter is, the definition of racism that I (and many people here, apparently) are using is a pretty common one that ought to be familiar to the social sciences Ph.D. you've announced yourself to be--whether you agree with it or not.  

                      Is that definition debatable?  Of course it is.  But you're not trying to debate it--you're telling people that they're "simply wrong" and that certain words ought to "banished" from use at dkos.  

    •  so now let me get this straight (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      when someone does something primarily based on race its not racism it's just "one of those things" which would make WV vote yesterday just "one of those things and we as a nation should collectively shrug and pay it no mind?

      someone ought to ask the people who are on the other side of that equation how they feel about it.

      Then people complain because the campaign didn't spend too much time in WV - why should they? If that belief is so ingrained what in the world would have been gained by it. Don't get me I have much respect and admiration for Senator Obama but he's human and NO ONE who's sane would want to subject themselves to that kind of racist mindset for any length of time.

      YOu can't just WISH something away and close your eyes and pretend it isn't there. That's been tried - notice from the vote yesterday it doesn't work. Racisim in this country has been "wished" away for years and its been pretended that it doesnt exist much but it does and West Virginia is only one of many places where it is alive and well.

      Better question is what is this COUNTRY prepared/willing to do about it.

      We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitrolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people-MLK

      by digitalmuse on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:19:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  racism is a very bad thing. (0+ / 0-)

        ethnic identification with a candidate being a factor in your vote is not racism. it's commonplace and completely mundane and perfectly fine. it's really no worse than when you pick your favorite team at the olympics based merely on where you were born. that's not xenophobia. there are many things that really are xenophobic but that's not one of them.

        you can love your own country and still not hate other countries. similarly, you can love your own race/ethnicity/culture and not hate others. why is that so hard to understand. i'm a foreign born hispanic and i'm married to a wonderful white american woman and have wonderful mixed race children. i love my culture and i also love my wife's culture.

        what's the problem????

        •  it is a problem when (0+ / 0-)

          your choices are not who's best qualified or best suited - but who YOU PERSONALLLY identify with and thats a poor method of selection. Just because someone is from your ethinic group does not make them better than their opponent  and with the problems this country is facing that smacks of outright ignorance that one would even allow that to enter into their decision process.  Just because something is commonplace doesn't make it right.

          In this specific instance you are talking about a group of people who chose not to vote for someone  PRIMARILY because of his RACE that is plain wrong no matter what language you say it in and no matter what culture DOES IT

          We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitrolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people-MLK

          by digitalmuse on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:36:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It is honest and correct. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Randian, cybrestrike, digitalmuse, Jezreel

      The reason why racism is still a factor in our politics is because people refuse to acknowledge it exists.

      We find euphamism for explaining away votes like this ionstead of dealing with the real problem head on.

      These people are arcists. Pure and simple. Maybe they are redeemable racists. Maybe tehy are ppersuadable ones. But they are racists none the less.

      Pointing out that people are racists is not a bad thing. It may allow us to move beyond this stuff and shame people who deserves to be shamed rather tahn pandering to their racism with code words and dog whistles.

      •  using false statistics is bad though (0+ / 0-)

        sure, if he had said:

        "some people in west virginia are racists and voted for hilary only because they hate blacks. we have no clue how many but i suspect it's a bunch of them"

        then it would have been perfectly fine. but that's not what he said.

        •  You can disagree with his interpretation... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ...but not the statistics.

          I thnk racism is pretty latent. Especially in a state like West Virginia that doesn't have large cities or suburbs full of educated people or minorities to even out the ignorant racist assholes.

          •  his stats are irrelevant to the argument (0+ / 0-)

            nobody was asked about anything related to racism.

            that racism is "pretty latent" is obvious. that is not his argument. his argument is that hilary won west virginia BECAUSE it is a racist state. that's his argument.

    •  have to disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that white people voting en masse for someone because that person is white is the same as blacks voting for a black guy or latinos voting for a latino guy.  The problems with race in this country do not exist in a vacuum.  There is a history and a present reality that deals with issues of power and oppression.  White people do and have always controlled this country - there's no need for them to ban together to protect their interest and there's no call for complaints of "reverse racism."  That's why it's not OK to have "white power" groups or white-centricness just because we have movements for black power and afrocentrism.

  •  WV voters think obama shares wright's views... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybrestrike, Zebras

    which ones, exactly?  "god damn america?"

    i think, among the demographics that we aren't talking about re: WV, is the post-911 uber-PATRIOTISM, fox-watching, feared-up and dumbed-down electorate.  perhaps THIS, not the race thing, is just as large a factor.

    62169 - which apparently means A LOT.

    by jj24 on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:07:50 AM PDT

  •  I'm not gonna bother (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quaoar, social liberal

    trying to refute this unprovable, silly claim, but I'm curious: do you think a piece like this helps Obama?

  •  anyone know (0+ / 0-)

    when Obama is going to release the April campaign donations?  Just wondering how well he did.

  •  The problem is racism, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beltane, Jezreel

    it is the skin color not the man however uncomfortable that fact may be.

    and it is fascinating watching the cable blowhards trying to spin it as a structural problem within the Obama campaign.

    May 6th 2008: IN Insignificance Day

    by stevej on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:09:11 AM PDT

  •  Can I ask one simple question? (0+ / 0-)

    Who cares whether one state has more racists than another? Statistics are very nice for people who deal in numbers. I had my head bashed in the 60s by 2 racists. Now what does that statistic mean to me? Besides, the statistic you point out deals with those who went to the polls. A lot of people who are not racists in WV may not have voted yesterday. Chill out with associating a whole state with racism. A lot of people did that in the 50s and 60s and a lot of good people from Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi who were not racists got lumped in with your damn statistics. There's racists everywhere, not just WV.

    You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war..... Albert Einstein,

    by tazz on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:10:10 AM PDT

  •  Racism: "An excessive and irrational belief in .. (0+ / 0-)

    the superiority of one's own racial group".

    You assertion "It reflects one vision of racists, that all black people think alike." I believe is based on a somewhat faulty premise.
    You assume that that percentage that wouldn't vote for Obama is based on racism.  I would suggest it might be attributed to ignorance more than racism or at least partly that.  The percentage of African Americans is extremely low in W. Virginia so people don't have a clue in many areas about AFricans Americans other than what they see on television.  I'll give you a personal example of this, I was stationed in Izmir, Turkey in 1985 while in the military.  Many folks I met there assumed all Americans are wealthy or well off based on ONE thing: they watched "Dyansty".

    Also, I don't believe that it's so much that they think African Americans think alike as it is that the W. Virginians in that percentage that wouldn't vote for Obama DO think alike based on their culture, belief system, values, religion, expericnes, etc.

    I'm not saying there are not folks who are racist, but we shouldn't confuse racism with ignorance or confuse racism with bigotry or prejudice.  

    Just my thoughts...

    •  there's a bit (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hprof, Randian, cybrestrike, Jezreel

      of a problem with the "there aren't many black people in WV" theory, though, since Obama actually does quite well in most of the states where there are very few black people. The Sirota-graph shows us that he does best in states with almost no black people or lots of black people. He will do well in Oregon, and presumably S Dakota and Montana--areas where there are very few black people. (he also won Utah, don't forget)

      So that explanation, while it sort of lets the people of WV off the hook, doesn't really stand up to other facts. There's more to it than that--but also more to it than just "those people are racists".

      Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

      by JMS on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:19:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While you're right and I agree with you in genera (0+ / 0-)

        I believe that one must take into consideration that many parts of W. Virginia are rural and mountanous, especially when you're talking about Appalchia and having driven all through that beautiful state time and time again, I don't think it's too far off to suggest that small town folks have a much small view of the world (I'm a former small town folk myself and many of the folks I grew up with couldn't care less about anything outside their sphere).  Once I left that small town, my world expanded exponentially.  That's all I'm saying.  Also I left out that, I believe If Obama were to go to some of these places and let the people get to know him a little, I've no doubt he would do fine.

        •  All those white people in the small towns of (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          North Dakota, Wyoming, etc. didn't seem to have a problem with voting for the mixed-race guy with the funny name.

          •  I would argue that each geographical area... (0+ / 0-)

            ...within the United States including Hawaii And Alaska have values, beliefs, and norms based upon its historical settlements which are reflected in their world-view and ability to keep an open mind which might or might not have jack to do with one's education level.

            I would imagine that within the culture of Appalachia and the so called "rust belt" you have a people with like beliefs, valus, etc, which has a great deal to do with why, how, and when these areas were settled.  

            People of the West by their very nature were probably peoples rooted in adventure and were originally part of that westward expansion of folks wanting something different, adventurers so to speak.

            So, while in W. Virginia the "mixed-race guy with the funny name" Might be anethema Based greatly on the perceived differences from them, in North Dakota or Wyoming, the "mixed-race guy with the funny name" is another American within the melting pot of America.  

            It's all in the HISTORY, that is my opinion.

            As far as the "mixed-race guy with the funny name"...

            My daughter happens to be mixed race; we actually when forced to put race in a box by OTHERS, use the term bi-racial, as in two parents, as in two races, as in White Anglo and African American.

            And, I guess some would consider her name "funny".  

      •  the difference is that West Va was (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jj24, Jezreel

        part of a slave state up until the Civil War and had a history of segregation and disfranchisement against black people afterwards.  In that sense, it's much more "Southern"--in all the bad ways--than those Western and Plains states you mentioned.

        •  important nuance (0+ / 0-)

          and this may sound a little glib, but I guess we further slice and dice Obama's demographic to include non confederate or confederate-sympathizing states with small black populations?

          Sometimes it's interesting to see not just who's supporting or not supporting someone, but why. Some whys can't be changed easily, but others can.

          I noted that California has been resurveyed, and Obama now defeats Hillary. One of the more striking changes was that the Asian vote had flipped from pro Hillary to pro Obama. There had been a certain amount of handwringing that Asians supported Hillary because they didn't like black people (not that's not untrue in certain cases...) but looking at the more recent results, I think it's more likely to infer that Asian people voted for Hillary because they thought she was the frontrunner or just from name recognition. So Obama didn't have to "change racist attitudes" in Califorina to get the Asian vote--in fact he didn't have to court the Asian California vote at all--all he had to do was become the frontrunner. Interesting lesson in that somewhere...

          Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

          by JMS on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:44:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  how does one (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leberquesgue, adamsrw, kfd313

    define "most racist state?" exactly? Highest number of racists? Highest percentage of citizens who are racists?

    But beyond that, why are we even talking about this??

    OK--on one level, I am a little tired of apologists for West Virginia or other pockets of the country where it is clear if you look at voting patterns and demographic patterns in the aggregate, attitudes are generally not progressive and tend more toward racism and xenophobia. Just because it reflects negatively on said people doesn't mean that it isn't actually true. Just because you aren't behaving in some negative way, or your family, or your friends, doesn't mean that your region or demographic in the aggregate is not.

    So there's that. But then, let's not go too far the other way either and exaggerate either the level of West Virginia's racism or its significance versus other states or in this election. West Virginia (or rather the demographic it represents) is a problem for Obama and people like him (not just racially like him), but getting at that problem and figuring it out is something Democrats will need to work on. Neither denying the problem nor exaggerating it will help.

    Barack Obama will only become president if enough people pay attention, so pay attention, dammit!

    by JMS on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:16:15 AM PDT

    •  My Definition of Racist (0+ / 0-)

      here is the percentage of white people who say that they voted against the black candidate and race was a factor in their vote. It's not the only definition of racist, but it is one measure.

      As for those who argue that black voters who support Obama partly because of race are racist, to me that's like saying that the KKK and the NAACP are equivalent because they're both race-based organizations. It ignores the entire history of racism in America.

      Obama Politics (

      by JohnKWilson on Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:39:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary... (5+ / 0-)

    I see a lot of people don't like to look at reality and want to stay within the confines of "political correctness", but this diary is accurate and well-written.  It doesn't do anyone any good to hide from facts and truth.

    •  i agree and my only problem with the diary is (0+ / 0-)

      saying that WV is "the most racist state" might be taking it a little far.  But the point is that yes, race was a huge factor in that vote, bigger than in most other states.

  •  Why white men vote based on gender (0+ / 0-)

    Incredibly, among the men who said gender was a factor in their voting, they also supported Clinton 59-34. This indicates that bigotry can be a divided concept. White people, and even white men, can support a female candidate enthusiastically while simultaneously revealing their dislike of black people.

    The white man's thinking: "I don't like Clinton because she's a woman, but then I don't like Obama more because he is black. I'll vote Clinton."

    Then, when answering the exit poll, both gender and race are correctly identified as factors, just not in the way you read it.

    This is a gross over-simplification, but then so is the diary.

  •  haven't you heard that suddenly its become (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not OK to identify widespread racism in West Virginia because you might hurt some people's feelings and it goes against the current groupthink around here?

    People, we now have the data in the exit polling for West Virginia.  The vote has happened and 20% is a very big number for people admitting that they voted based on race.  And no, don't compare this to Obama running up 85 to 90% tallies amongst black voters, not when they were supporting Hillary as recently as November and not when they voted for Bill and other white Democrats at 90% rates in the past.

  •  Instead of polls (0+ / 0-)

    why not visit the state and talk to the people.  Also SamCDC posted an excellent diary yesterday on this topic.  

    "No day in which you learn something is a complete loss." -Belgarath the sorcerer

    by Botopdawg on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:45:08 AM PDT

  •  My Bizzaro Voting Experience in WV (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj24, JohnKWilson, digitalmuse, Jezreel

    As I was entering my voting location yesterday a man was leaving, he said to me "don't vote for that F****en N****er".  I replied, "I find that highly offensive and I most certainly will be voting for Obama.  He is the best chance for the country to get back on track."  Needless to say at this point I was upset as I continued into the polling place.  There I was told, "you can't vote for Obama, he's dead"  "WHAT?", "Yeah, we just heard he was shot".  I guess they realized I didn't get the joke and the lady quickly apologized.  Felt like I was in bizzaro world.

    Also, a few examples I heard while subbing in a local HS...."He's not American, He's BLACK", "He's a terrorist, he's going to give all our secrets to the terrorist and they are going to blow us up",  "he'll paint the White House black and park pink cadillacs in front of it."  Geesh!

    I have lived in WV all my life and I have never heard such blatant racism!  My conclusion is that they feel they have been given the green light to say these things because the way the Clinton's have subliminally used the race card.  They knew the exact buttons and keywords to use to get their message out.  Shame on the Clintons!

    •  is that snark/humor or did that really happen? (0+ / 0-)

      That's some pretty over the top stuff.

      •  Tis the truth (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jj24, Jezreel

        Yes, this is exactly what happened.  I have never posted here before, but I am so upset and saddened by this that I had to find somewhere to vent, so here I am looking for some understanding.

        •  I feel for you aand thank you (0+ / 0-)

          for letting us know about what you experienced.

        •  sorry to hear you had (0+ / 0-)

          an experience like that - i've had my share as well and in fact when i wear my obama jacket out  i have to steel myself for the negative comments that are extremely racist absolutely rude and completely ignorant

          and to think i don't live in West Virginia i  live in NY go figures?

          We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitrolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people-MLK

          by digitalmuse on Wed May 14, 2008 at 06:58:33 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Tis a tad unlikely (0+ / 0-)

          Are you trying say a worker or other individual inside the polling place informed you that you can't vote for your preferred candidate?

          And your reaction, rather than report the person to the authorities, was to come to a website you've never posted at before and look for "understanding?"

          That doesn't sound too credible.  

          •  re: unlikely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Yes, I was inside the poll.  However, this is a very small town, 120 voters max. for big elections.  I know these people well and I realize now that they were not telling me I couldn't vote for Obama, she thought she was being funny, which apparently 75% of the voters would have found it hillaryous.  I live in this community, everyone knows each other, literally, so no, I didn't report her.  

            Why am I not "credible"? I have read KOS this entire primary season and never felt I had anything that someone would find interesting and when I do get the courage to post I am dissed??

            •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

              But your story doesn't sound credible to me.  

              For example, you "realize now" that they weren't telling you that you couldn't vote for Obama?  I can only infer from that statement that you didn't realize that when the incident happened, which doesn't seem accurate given your initial comment.

              If this really happened as you described, I apologize.  But it doesn't sound credible.

              And if it did happen, you may still want to consider filing a complaint about the incident.  It appears to have been an illegal attempt to influence your vote inside a polling place.  Joke or not, the person who did it needs to understand the consequences of her action. Look at it this way - another, more passive or easily intimidated voter may have changed his or her vote in response to illegal actions such as this.

              •  tempted to HR (0+ / 0-)

                for going with the gut instinct to call someone who reports an incident of racially tinged offensive behavior a liar.  

              •  re: Sorry (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                tbounnak, Jezreel

                Gee, guess I am unable to communicate all the little nuances that are required for your understanding.

                My decision to not report the incident has to do with being part of the community in which I live.  Believe me, they got the message from me that they had crossed the line and I am sure it didn't happen again.  Also, what good would it have done to officially report it?  It wouldn't have changed minds or the outcome of the vote, it would only have labeled me as a radical.  Maybe being less strident about it will allow me to sway more folks in the general election.  What would Obama have done?

                I'll go away now.  Thanks.

  •  This article... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    digitalmuse, Jezreel

    ...tells me all I need to know about West Virginia, and that's to keep to the main highways until I make it out of the state.

  •  West Virginia (0+ / 0-)

    Dems are going to seat a delegation at the convention and they're not going to look like hillbillies nor are they going to be racist.  And, after the first ballot when a majority of them go for Hillary Clinton, the second ballot will show a unanimous West-by-god-Virginia vote for Barack Obama.  People can vote how they want.  It's the Republicans who have demonstrated over and over again a scurrilous tendency to suppress the African-American vote.  Let's kick their ass.

  •  Terrible title, terrible conclusion. (0+ / 0-)

    You don't have nearly enough data to call WV "the most racist state", and it makes you look like an asshole for doing it.

    The most you can say is that WV has the highest percentage of registered Democrats who voted in a primary and who also vote according to race (and you can call that particular group racist, which is a strong possibility).  But unless you can show that registered Democrats who voted in the primary are somehow a reasonable indicator of statewide tendencies (Democrat and Republican, voters and non-voters) both in WV and in other states to an equal degree, then you've got neither the evidence nor the right to make a claim about WV as "the most racist state".

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:31:25 AM PDT

    •  Most Racist State in the Primaries So Far (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, the most I can say is that WV provides the most evidence of racism so far. It's possible that West Virginia has an extraordinary number of anti-racist Republicans and non-voters compared to other states, but that doesn't seem very likely at all. As far as this data indicate, WV is the most racist state.

      I should note that if Obama had campaign aggressively in WV for a long time, I think that his vote would have increased and the racist vote would have declined. I don't regard racism as a permanent attribute. But facts are facts, whether they're uncomfortable or mean.

      Obama Politics (

      by JohnKWilson on Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:47:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why "not likely at all"? (0+ / 0-)

        Facts may be facts, but you're basing your conclusion based on a gut instinct about likelihood.  That's something else entirely.

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Wed May 14, 2008 at 07:53:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Why Likely? (0+ / 0-)

          It's not a gut instinct. It's a reasoned view that if a state has the most racist Democratic voters, it's unlikely to have highly tolerant Republicans and non-voters. Now, it might be possible that a state with a higher percentage of Republicans (e.g. Mississippi) might be more racist overall, if we speculated that Republicans are much more likely to be racist that Democrats. But we don't have exit poll data on racist voting by Republicans. This diary is meant to analyze what state's voters have been the most racist in voting in the Democratic primaries. It doesn't automatically mean the entire state is the most racist in every way.

          Obama Politics (

          by JohnKWilson on Wed May 14, 2008 at 08:00:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Great article. (0+ / 0-)

        From what I can discern, many readers of your piece prefer not to acknowledge the significant role that racism played the WV primary. However, judging by the reports of some Obama supporters in WV white racism was very apparent during the run-up to the primary. Take for example this report  by a reporter at MSNBC
        Racism alarms Obama's backers
        Candidate's foot soldiers encounter name-calling, vandalism, bomb threats

        And then this video on
        entitled: Obama faces racism in West Virginia

        and also this article in WaPo WaPo
        Racist Incidents Give Some Obama Campaigners Pause

        We must use time creatively... and forever realize that time is always ripe to do right. Martin Luther King, Jr.

        by Jezreel on Wed May 14, 2008 at 10:39:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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