I’m finally back from almost three weeks of back-to-back travel that included a longish stay in Indiana. My in-laws live there so it was a particularly interesting way to experience the nail-biter than was the Indiana primary. Clinton won — but barely. It was not enough for her to change the dynamic of the race, and may have signaled the beginning of the end of her candidacy. What was fascinating though, is that the race and class patterns that have been shaping the campaigns thus far continued to persist.
I had set out for Indiana with two questions to answer about the role of race and class in this race:
1) Why is Barack Obama having such trouble winning over white, blue-collar Democrats? Or, to put a more positive spin on it, why are white blue-collar Democrats so loyal to Hillary Clinton? Afterall, the two candidates’ policy platforms are very similar, and their socio-economic backgrounds are not radically different. Obama was raised by a single mother and came from a no more financially privileged background than did Clinton.
2) Why have African-American Democrats, who overwhelming support Obama, been so quiet about the Rev. Wright controversy which has damaged their preferred candidate? And how much has it really hurt Obama?
My goal was to listen very, very closely to what the voters were saying, and to report their voices back. The answers I found are in the current issue of Maclean’s and on-line here: