Racism (or Sexism) At the Margins
I don’t know if 15% of the electorate will vote against Sen. Obama because of the color his skin, as some have asserted. Or, for that matter, if a similar proportion of the total electorate would vote against Sen. Clinton because of her gender. It wouldn’t need to be that high to make this a close election.
In 2004 John Kerry carried the following states by less than 5% of the vote: Wisconsin (.38%), New Hampshire (1.37%), Pennsylvania (2.50%), Michigan (3.42%), Minnesota (3.48%), Oregon (4.16%). He also carried the following states by less than 10% of the vote: New Jersey (6.68%), Washington (7.18%), Delaware (7.60%), Hawaii (8.75%), Maine (8.99%), California (9.95%).
Consequently, if John McCain can carry the states that George W. Bush did in 2004 and if just 5% of the voters in any of the six states that Kerry carried by less than 5% or 10% of the voters in any the six states that Kerry carried by less than 10% vote against Sen. Obama because of his black African Kenyan father or Sen. Clinton because of her gender, it will provide a safety margin for a McCain victory in November.
My point is not that Obama can’t win or that Clinton can’t win. I think that each of them could conceivably win in November and, all other things being equal, matters like the situation in Iraq, the economy, the Bush record, and a Republican having held the White House for the last 8 years all point to a Democrat being elected in November. But, barring unforeseen circumstances, I believe it will be very close and a quick look at the numbers tells you why. What happens at the margins will matter.