THE PLANK MARCH 5, 2008
Everyone should read John Judis' analysis of the exit polls, but I want to quibble with a point he makes about race. Here's John:
The exit polls ask voters whether the "race
of the candidates" was "important" in deciding their vote. If one looks
at the percentage of Clinton (and earlier Edwards) voters who said it
was "important," that is a fair estimate of the overall percentage of
primary voters who were not inclined to vote for Obama because he was
The exit poll
asked voters whether the race of the candidate was the "most important"
factor, "one of several" factors, or not a factor at all in deciding
who they voted for. 79% of people said it was not a factor at all. 6%
said it was the most important factor, but we don't have any numbers on how
those people voted. And 14% said it was one of several factors. Of
those 14%, not quite six-in-ten went for Clinton. That adds up to
approximately 8 percent of the electorate. (John calculates it at
11.4%, which I do not think is right. He is including the 6% who said
it was the most important factor, but the exit polls included that
number even though we do not know how they voted).
percent is a somewhat large number, but the wording of the question
still makes me extremely suspicious. Pretend you are a Democratic
voter. You have read or seen numerous stories on the first election
between a woman and a black man. You'd like to see a woman president
and a black president. And you have decided to vote for Hillary Clinton. An
exit pollster asks whether race "was one of several factors" in
deciding your vote. It seems very likely that you may say yes, even if
you chose to vote against Obama.
I am willing to believe there
are people out there who will not vote for Obama because of his race,
but the exit poll is not convincing on this measure.