In the wake of Clinton’s win in PA, pundits have restarted the race issue. In analyzing why Obama has not won in blue collar cities across America, ABC ran a report arguing that Obama’s race may be a factor in his electability. Of course this report and others I have seen focus solely on whites voting for Obama. After 15 months of campaigning I see a different reason why Obama can’t close the deal as they say.
While some polls do suggest that race is a factor, the percentages are very small. For those voters who feel that race is not a factor the percentages are much higher, hovering around 77%. The way these polls are presented also is a huge factor. Generally these polls are presented as white voters only, which may or may not be how the poll was taken. In any case other data suggests that blacks vote overwhelmingly for Obama, 92% in PA for instance. Yet this “race” data is seen as okay for some reason yet it is no less racist. No matter what polls and data suggest though after 15 months on the campaign trail race is not the issue for the majority of Americans, it is policy.
Even the most out of touch voter has seen an ad on TV or read at least one article in a paper. In some way that piece of media swayed their decision and not one TV ad that I have seen or heard has come out to say don’t vote for Obama because he is black. The informed electorate, those voters who read newspapers, watch some TV and utilize the Internet, have made up their minds based on a policy issue that is important to them after so many months of coverage on the campaign trail. Obama can’t close the deal because of this flow of information.
When voters look at his stance on Iraq, which has been widely circulated, they may agree with him that the war was a bad idea but know the reality of the situation is that no one will be able to cut and run. In addition, when both he a Clinton were asked about Iran getting and using nuclear weapons, Clinton acted tough on defense while Obama kept saying that talking would end every crisis in the world while calling Clinton’s stance saber rattling (words used against Bush by Clinton and Obama to attack his foreign policy). American voters do want more money in their pockets but understand that growing the size of government through more welfare and other assistance programs will only lead to higher taxes for all Americans, especially blue collar, middle class workers. Open immigration policies will also hurt working Americans and voters know this when they still have to press 1 for English.
Finally voters realize that experience really does matter. In PA, Sen Obama ran his campaign not on what he has done on the US Senate but what he did as a state Senator and in his previous career as a civil rights lawyer. Voters understand that passing policy in Illinois is not like passing policy that will affect the 50 states that make up the United States of America. Obama can’t make a case for experience because he has none on the national or world stage.
I have heard the comparisons to JFK in reference to Obama’s lack of experience, speaking quality and other traits. I will admit that I was not alive for JFK and only know the historical record of JFK as President and citizen. These references are flawed at their core because of JFK’s service to America before he was President. Serving as Secretary to his Ambassador father, commanding a PT boat in WW2, and as a Congressman for much longer than Obama, JFK had more experience and policy making ability than Obama has now as he runs for the same office.
The reason Obama can’t close the deal has very little to do with race. Yes, a small percentage of whites will vote along racial lines, just as a small percentage of women will vote only on gender lines. The reason Obama has failed to win support among blue collar workers, the average Joe, are his policies. While he repeats the chorus of “change we can believe in”, Americans are starting to look at his idea of change and finding it hard to swallow. Obama himself still, after 15 months, does not get into policy debates unless he is forced to engage an opponent. However, with just a little digging any voter can find out that he has proposed higher taxes, believes in free and open borders and is soft on defense. So while the media outlets continue to play the race card, Americans are moving on to the issues that matter and deciding for themselves who will be the best candidate to serve as President of the United States, no matter what color,age or gender they happen to be on election day.