Welcome to the archives for NewsTalk, an IBJ blog published from November 2007 through December 2010.

Race and the Obama vote

October 7, 2008
Yet another poll shows the contest between John McCain and Barack Obama as too close to call in Indiana. The WISH-TV Channel 13 survey has each with 46 percent of likely voters.

With margins like this, the election could turn on perceptions of race. And predicting how Indiana voters will react is a big wild card.

Long-time IUPUI political scientist Brian Vargus reminds that in the May primary election Obama failed to capture so much as a single county in a gigantic â??Uâ??-shaped swath around the Indianapolis area. That â??Uâ?? begins near Fort Wayne and extends south to cover virtually all of southern Indiana and up the western side of the state to Lafayette.

Are people in that â??Uâ?? racist? It would be naïve to think that some arenâ??t, Vargus says. Most of the apparent discomfort with Obama probably comes from the largely rural areas having little contact with minorities, he suspects.

Hardly anyone admits to pollsters that race influences their vote. Yet, Vargus notes that polls in other states have shown 5 to 15 percent of respondents say their neighbor wouldnâ??t vote for a person of color.

What do you think? To what extent will race play a role come November?
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