Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Weasel's Elbow or How I Wasn't Really Wrong and You Just Thought I Was

It is often a source of great amusement to me to sit back and watch psychics, politicians, preachers, and economists try to weasel their way out when their pronouncements and prognistications are revealed to be inaccurate. To avoid getting nailed by the truth, that they were flat-out wrong and likely have no real idea of what they are talking about, they usually claim that either: 1) they were misinterpreted and did not mean what their listeners thought them to mean, or 2) that the truth of their statements/predictions have not yet been revealed to those who would judge them. Now I must join their ranks as the Weaselly Elbow.

In "Bill Clinton's Black Behind" I did that which I normally avoid like Jehovah's Witnesses avoid the Pledge of Allegiance: attempted to predict the future. The original version of the post stated that he would defeat her in all of the primaries "in which a significant portion of primary voters are black." I outsmarted myself, however, and shortened myself in the post's final edit to "the primary of any Southern state." The latter does flow better, but Florida's Democratic primary makes the original version a lot more accurate.

This prediction was not an attempt to paint Barack Obama as a "primarily black" candidate, like Jesse Jackson certainly was in his attempts at presidential politics. Rather, Obama's strong support (thus far) among white primary voters means that if he can continue to draw those votes in addition to the percentage of black primary voters he did in South Caronlina, he can continue to win primaries in states that have a similar percentage of black voters.

Florida (the real weaseling begins now) is an odd Southern state. Its demographics are quite unlike the other states of the deep South, with its populations of Cuban-Americans and retirees. Where South Carolina's population is nearly 30% black, Florida's is only @ 16%. Hillary's 17-point Florida primary victory vanishes in a heartbeat if Florida is 23%-24% black and Obama draws the percentage of black voters he did in SC.

If the South Carolina model for Southern primaries holds up, Obama is a lock for wins in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. In states like Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and Arkansas, where 16%-22% of voters are black, Obama needs to do better among white primary voters than he did in Florida (which he probably will not do in Arkansas, Clinton's home state). In Texas only 12% of the population is black, which means that the Obama campaign will have to find some way to convince Austin, the hub of Texas' white, liberal voters that having a black president will be more progressive than having a woman president (which he just might do).

Please note: The above predictions might also be wrong.

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