It's Just Because He's Black?
by dmc2, Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 05:36:22 PM EST
With his comments yesterday downplaying Obama's win in South Carolina as a mere echo of Jesse Jackson's wins there in 1984 and 1988 (with the not-to-subtle indication that, "It's just because he's black"), Bill Clinton neglected to mention the 2004 South Carolina primary results.
In case we've all forgotten, that contest included six white men and a black candidate who is clearly "black enough" and has been on the forefront of black causes across America for the past couple of decades: Rev. Al Sharpton.
Do blacks in South Carolina always go for the black candidate, especially one with the racial bonafides of an Al Sharpton?
2004 South Carolina Democratic Primary Exit Polls - African-Americans:
John Edwards 37%
John Kerry 34%
Al Sharpton 17%
Wes Clark 6%
Howard Dean 4%
Joe Lieberman 1%
Dennis Kucinich 0%
Edwards and Kerry both won more than twice as many black votes in South Carolina as compared to Sharpton, just four years ago.
Of course, it would be silly to say that Barack's race had nothing to do with it; at the same time, it was never an assumption that he would win the black vote there. All of the major black political establishment leaders either stayed neutral or endorsed Clinton and most blacks continue to have fond feelings for the administration of her husband.
To really understand what happened there, I would suggest taking a look at this Wall Street Journal article (sorry to have to link to a conservative website for it!) detailing the different strategies employed by the two campaigns: Clinton adopted the more traditional strategy of paying church leaders and established political operatives to "deliver" the black vote; Obama organized a grassroots mobilization behind the campaign.For a flavor of how the Obama campaign did this, I would also invite you to check out this video: