Alex Massie

Some people’s votes are worth more than other people’s...

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Barack Obama wins big in South Carolina. But here's what National Review's David Freddoso has to say:

He was clobbered with white men and white women. He came in third among both groups.

Obama showed in Iowa and New Hampshire that he can win white votes. But the exit polls suggest that this victory in South Carolina is about race, plain and simple.

UPDATE: That is to say, except among the youngest voters (who backed Obama first regardless of race).

Well. I thought black people's votes counted too. But apparently not if a victory on such a crushing scale can be so easily discounted.  The numbers suggest Obama won 80% of the African-American vote. What's wrong with that? I don't recall folk suggesting Clinton's (narrow) win in New Hampshire was compromised because it rested upon the support of white voters. Heck, we've had all manner of stories suggesting the Obama might be in trouble with African-American voters because he was not, in some sense or another, black enough. Now that he wins their support the rules of the game change and it turns out Obama is too black. This is ugly stuff.

Mind you, far be it from me that conservatives at NRO might be happy to take the Clinton campaign's line on this result. After all, they'd rather face her, I think, than the Senator from Illinois.

UPDATE: David Freddoso writes to say I'm being unfair - which is true. I shouldn't have imputed to David motives that seem to be more Bill Clinton's than anyone else's. He also says I'm silly - which, for once, seems more questionable.

"The point is simply that (1) Obama might have more trouble winning in the many other states where blacks don't cast half the votes, and (2) SC white Dems won't vote for a black guy. But a 30-point win, as I noted later once the results were in, it pretty big no matter once."

Point 1 has some truth, clearly. 2 seems more questionable. After all Obama received 25% of the white vote in a three horse race that included John Edwards who was born in the state and won the South Carolina primary four years ago. By contrast Jesse Jackson never won more than 10% of the white vote in 1984 and 1988.

Just as importantly, I should have thought, Obama tied Clinton amongst white men. I should have though that must augur quite well for him in other contests south of the Mason-Dixon line, even in states with fewer African-Americans than South Carolina. Add that to his appeal to young voters (for whom race is clearly, I think, a less anguished issue than it is for baby boomers) and Obama's ability to capture the centre-ground and you have the makings of a workable coalition. Not a sure thing, but not bad I should have thought.

One other thing: even where Obama has lost - New Hampshire and Nevada - he has been competitive. Where Hillary has lost, she has been hammered. Mightn't that demonstrate that Obama's appeal is wider than hers?

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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