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North Carolina has been a Republican stronghold for decades. So can Barack Obama really overcome the history of racial prejudice in the southern states?

The polls suggest that America will elect Barack Obama its first black president in two weeks. But the tidal wave of enthusiasm for him points to him not just winning the White House but capturing two important states of the Old Confederacy, North Carolina and Virginia.

Both have reliably gone Republican during every presidential election for 40 years, and only once since 1948 has Virginia voted to put a Democrat in the White House. On a US electoral map, these are the highest peaks of prejudice the Democrat is poised to overcome. North Carolina, especially, is a place where some of the nastiest race-based campaigns have been fought in modern times. The ground is now shaking under the country club Republicans as the polls give Senator Obama a margin of some 10 percentage points in Virginia and put North Carolina on a knife edge. Read more.

Question: Can Obama really pull this off and does it mean a sea-change in US society as well as politics?


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knic26 wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 12:56 pm (UTC)
As a North Carolinian, having seen the Jesse Helms ads against Harvey Gantt, as well as some of the nastiest campaigning in the country, I am glad that we can overcome the stupidity and see through the color of a man's skin to make decisions based on the content of his campaign.
(no subject) - swaney3 - Oct. 20th, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC) Expand
wolfwyndd wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 02:41 pm (UTC)
Here's my take on it. CAN Obama pull it off? I don't know. I HOPE he does, that's for sure. Does it mean a drastic change in US society or politics? Nope. Not at all. I remember 20 years (or so) ago when the 'moral majority' was the group not to be messed with. With the Clinton election their power has been drastically minimized. HOWEVER, they're not dead yet. In my opinion they were very influencial with getting George W. elected. They are still a pretty strong influence on the political system and while they may take hits every now and then politics, like just about everything else in life, is cyclical and I wouldn't be surprised if they still have enough power and influence to swing things back their way.
brennakimi wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 02:50 pm (UTC)
African Americans are, by and large, democrats. They've also been systematically--both explicitly and implicitly--disenfranchised for over 100 years.

We're finally seeing people taking responsibility for that and seeking actively to enfranchise them. It's about time it happened, and about time the election accurately represented America.

The South still has a higher percentage of African Americans than the rest of the country. It's simply a dose of reality that a serious enfranchisement effort would give the democrats a boost in the South.

Add that to the current economic crisis, the very real evidence that Obama has a better economic plan and the popular opinion that that is the case, and the massive distaste in an incumbent opposing party which are affecting the whole country and the disproportionately rural and poor South especially, and you have a perfect recipe for a seriously interesting election.
jeffxandra wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
Can he pull it off? Quite possibly.

Does it mean a sea change? Unlikely, but not impossible. Frankly it will depend more on the years he spends in office than the election itself.

The cards are stacked strongly against the Republicans this year and yet they still garner strong support from many voters. You can still find houses with Confederate flags and McCain yard signs in "northern" states like Pennsylvania and Maryland which are even more likely to go for Obama.
burkesworks wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 03:50 pm (UTC)
If there's anywhere in the USA where Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama could make a significant difference, it'll be VA (think of the US Navy bases at Norfolk) and NC (think of Fort Bragg). VA in particular looks encouraging, NC is more of a toss-up and a lot depends on whether Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, and Chapel Hill can out-vote the up country areas that regularly elected the likes of Jesse Helms.

What Obama needs to watch in these kind of battleground states is not so much the Bradley effect as the Diebold one. Some very fishy news has been breaking about shenanigans in the advance voting in a couple of counties over in West Virginia where there are reports of faulty Diebold machines flipping Dem votes to GOP.

Edited at 2008-10-20 03:51 pm (UTC)
silver_chipmunk wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 04:13 pm (UTC)
Right now I think it's just desperation "anyone else but the Republicans".

The sea-change will come, assuming Obama makes it, and is a good president, after that. When they look and see what he's done and say "OK, we had a black president, and he was pretty good. I guess they can do it after all." That's when the attutude change will start happening.

Like Jackie Robinson, just by making it to the major leaagues, didn't change attutudes. It was after they saw that he could actually play, and other black players after him came in and could play too, that attitudes started to change.
polarisdib wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
I honestly expect Obama will lose quite a few states in the South, especially North Carolina and Virginia. I know the polls say otherwise, to a slight degree, but y'know the thing about polls... I've never taken one, and I've not really ever seen an ignorant racist take one either. I honestly never know a single person who ever does, really, so I don't know where they come from. But at any rate, I'm a very prejudiced person: I pretty much expect Southerners to be all Confederate and racist and stuff, even though for a great many of them that's not the case. So there you go.

On a more serious note, the only public way I have to deal with elections is to see what is going on in my community, and what goes on in my community is vastly different than what goes on in North Carolina. Luckily, my sister lives in North Carolina, so if I ever decide that I care what they think, I can ask her.

herekittykitty wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
My sister lives in NC too, and she says if she sees or hears another Obama smear ad, she'll scream.
inafoxhole wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
Perhaps we will be talking about Obama Republicans the way we used to talk about Reagan Democrats. As others have noted, a lot will depend on what happens after thr election. If Obama wins and gets assassinated... *shudder* the results will be different if he governs for 4 or 8 years. What I do think will happen, however, is if Obama can pull out some of these Southern states, even by a narrow margin, it will embolden the left in this country. It could also have devastaing consequences for the Republican party. What happens afterwards will determine how extreme things could be in the long run for them.

I try not to make predictions, but there are certain things that would not surprise me, and some of them are not necessarily pleasant.
pennyann wrote:
Oct. 20th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC)
My dad says they could have put a cardboard box up for election in the democratic slot and it would have won, such is the referendum against the Bush Administration and by extension the Republicans in general. This is kind of stretching it, but honestly it usually happens that way... extreme or dire circumstances lead to a party change in the White House. I'm not sure why people are surprised, considering the state of the country, that a Democrat would be winning in places he hadn't won before.

Everyone is trying really hard to make this about race. Everyone is trying to nitpick every little thing and talk about it and how it might affect the outcome of the election and then the country as a whole. C'mon people, it's not that nuanced. Look at Bush's approval rating and think about where we are as a country... isn't that enough to answer most of our questions about why people are supporting a Democratic candidate right now?

I'm not trying to sell Barak Obama short here either. I have expounded on what I feel are his qualifications and why I feel he is the right choice, so I'm not trying to make it sound like I don't think he is the man for the job and any Democrat would have been elected.

The combination of the two though... makes it more than obvious to me without further nitpicking necessary.
sparkstealer wrote:
Oct. 21st, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
Speaking as a North Carolinian with family in Virginia, I can say there's a lot of different factors going on. You have, of course, increased urbanization, especially in North Carolina.

Former rural areas are either being eaten by larger cities or becoming suburbs, especially Greensboro, Raleigh, and Hampton Roads (which is actually spreading into northern NC as well as its VA surroundings). The kids don't want to run the family farm any more, so they move to cities and the farm becomes run by a corp or sold for housing.

There's also been a recent influx of northen immigrants (or, as we like to call them, damn Yankees), mostly from New York to VA and New Jersey to NC, who bring their mostly Democrat-leaning views with them.

On top of that, we've also had an Hispanic influx, especially over the past 4 years. They themselves tend to favor Democrats, but it also leads to an interesting phenomenon in easing black-white racial tensions because both blacks and whites hate the Hispanics enough that the other side no longer seems so bad (I call it "The Devil You Know Syndrome").

As if that was not enough, NC & VA have lost a ton of manufacturing jobs over the past few years, mostly in textiles. My area - Greensboro - has been hard hit by the recent world furniture market in Las Vegas. Our neighbor city of High Point held the only one until just a couple of years ago, but now a lot of furniture manufacturers are closing their doors because of the new competition. And that's just one example.

Can Obama win these states? Yes. Will it be easy? No, we've still got a lot of narrow-minded folks clinging to life (which is another factor - most of the die-hard segregationists have passed on) and a lot of inertia to overcome. Will it mean a sea-change? I think it would be more a symptom than a cause.
stchaz wrote:
Oct. 21st, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
What is all this racist talk. You people see racists behind every bush and street sign in America. Here's a novel thought for all you tolerant liberals out there: Not everyone who votes against Obama is a racist. Some of us want smaller govt., lower taxes, to write our own energy future, our 1st and 2nd amendment rights upheld, more ORIGINALISTS on the Supreme Court, no infanticide, no way do we want FREE gov't healthcare. You see there are many reasons to not want Obama elected and none of them are racial. I liked Obama at first before the Wright and Ayres (non)scandals broke. he's just a cheap hustler who is not ready to lead and IMO a racist.
ghostinthemist wrote:
Oct. 30th, 2008 07:40 am (UTC)
So can Barack Obama really overcome the history of racial prejudice in the southern states?

I found that statement to be completely prejudiced. Do you have any idea how many black governors and mayors there have been in the south?

Race has been a problem world-wide since the beginning of humanity. Unfortunately history has made it easy to play racism with a southern accent. But I remember race riots in Boston, New York and L.A. Also, you should know that there are more members of the KKK in the north and west than in the south. And there have been fewer hate crimes committed in the south than in the rest of the nation. You can investigate all of these statements if you like. You can start with the FBI.
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