Saturday, January 26, 2008

Earl Hutchinson Claims Race Is Always An Issue in Presidential Politics

JAMIE RENO writes:
...racial issues are starting to simmer along the campaign trail, and the flames could be turned up as the pols head deeper into the Southern and Southwestern states. The candidates quickly tried to tone down any discussion of race and gender, but political analyst and author Earl Hutchinson, whose latest book, "The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House," comes out next month, suggests that race is always an issue in presidential politics, be it covert or overt, and that there's a much more significant racial subtext to the current race than many may realize.

Hutchinson, who believes the shortage of white votes for Barack Obama in Nevada is more indicative of what will happen in the fall than the support he got from whites in Iowa, cites the "Bradley Effect," the label for the alleged penchant of many white voters to lie to pollsters when they tell them that race isn't a consideration when they vote. The term derives from the 1982 election involving former Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley, which showed that a smaller percentage of white voters actually voted for Bradley, an African-American, than had said they planned to vote for him.

Hutchinson believes this effect is even more pronounced among Hispanics. He writes at length in his new book that the tensions in this country between blacks and Latinos are alive and well.

Mr. Hutchinson's hypothesis that white voters lie to pollsters about the race of a candidate not being an issue is disturbing. I imagine the voter is actually lying to him or herself rather than to the pollster. Knowing oneself is a challenge, as is recognizing one's own prejudices or outright bigotries. Still, I hope Mr. Hutchinson is wrong.

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