Poll: Race played role in Mountain State

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Will it come down to the race card as Sen. Hillary Clinton racks up an impressive victory in Tuesday night’s West Virginia primary?

This morning’s New York Times reported that exit poll surveys in West Virginia showed two out of 10 white voters cited race as a factor in their decision. Of those, 80 percent of them supported Clinton over Sen. Barack Obama, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination.

However, race won’t be the deciding factor for the nomination, Dr. Michael McTeague, Ohio University professor, says.

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“It’s not the race issue. It will be the numbers’ issue,” he said. “There are people who don’t like to vote for a person of color or a female and some don’t like to vote for an older man.”

However, Clinton’s ability to attract certain white voters could be her strategy as she struggles to overtake Obama in the superdelegate race that is weekly turning against her.

“That is her argument that he is not electable in the hardcore states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, which have a good sized Electoral College,” McTeague said.

Those voters are characterized as not college-educated, not highly employable and low income.

“Obama will have to make an argument that will sell himself … that (he has) an economic plan. It doesn’t have to be a perfect plan but something that will give some relief,” McTeague said.

OU professor Dr. Kenneth Heineman sees the increasing talk about race as the issue that will galvanize the party leaders to push for Obama as the nominee.

“It is embarrassing to the Democratic Party that is a multiracial, multicultural party,” Heineman said. “Since the 1960s, it has billed itself as the rainbow coalition.”

As far as the United States having its first African American president, Heineman sees that as a possibility.

“I think he can beat McCain. It won’t be easy,” he said.

He cited the statistics that pit the 20 percent of Clinton voters who say they won’t vote for Obama versus 10 percent of Republicans who say they would cross over and vote Democratic.

“Those who say they won’t vote for Obama, they won’t vote for McCain,” he said. “More than likely they will not vote at all.”

He expects Clinton to continue the primary campaign through the end of May and possibly through Puerto Rico in early June.

“Then as others are saying, she will have to figure out her exit strategy,” Heineman said.