The racial graph
by Jerome Armstrong, Mon Mar 17, 2008 at 04:35:31 PM EDT
Two things: 1) The narrative of this primary campaign, around the accusations of racism and the accusations of race-baiting, seems set in stone; 2) Obama is one psychologically unique person.
HCD Research has some innovative technology that they've used for the Wright rant. I've long wanted to put it to use myself, it ought to do away with the costly focus groups that most campaigns use (or at least supplement half of them). They were able to spot the SwiftBoaters early on in '04, and were pretty much spot on with seeing its influence. This is a completed graph of users watching the rants by Jerimiah Wright:
Its self-explanatory, but if you want to see it in action, go here. The bad news for Obama is that Wright is so toxic. I knew it in the visceral reaction that I had to it, and went off with an emotion-laden blogpost. Us secular warriors just don't get it; I happen to have had a Christian fundamentalist upbringing and know what America's church-goers saw.
Rasmussen already showed similar results, with only a 8% favorability rating for Wright. I was amazed that 66% of those polled had already heard about or seen Wright. 73% see Wright's comments as racially devisive. Among Republicans, 70% were less likely to vote for Obama, among Independents, 57% are less likely, and among Democrats 44% are less likely. Where this appears to hit hardest for Obama is among the youth. There's a question of "How Important is Faith and Religion in How You Vote?" and the number saying its important are higher in the 18-29 aged group than any other age segment, which I've seen in other polls as well. 62% of those aged 18-29 said they were less likely to vote for Obama because of Wright, higher than any other age group. And it's yet to completely trickle out among this age group, due to their non-mainstream media habits. Only 58% of those aged 18-29 have viewed it, lower than the other age groups.
The big question is how much of this is an introduction and branding of Obama nationally, as opposed to Wright. I think we could hope that its more of the latter, but that's going to mean Obama has to make it that way. He's tried to straddle the issue to date, and not separate fully from Wright. There's another video here, with HCD tracking, which shows the response to Obama himself on the issue, and he does better. That's the good news. If he can reach people, and satisfy their questions, he can possibly turn it around.
I don't think the way that he's pitched the speech he's going to give tomorrow, as talking about "the larger issue of race in this campaign" will suffice to put away the issue of Wright. Particularly if Obama continues with the angle of saying about Wright that "the caricature that's being painted of him is not accurate." Wright is in Farrakhan land, as far as the American public is concerned. If he tries platitudes and rhetoric, everyone will wonder about what they heard an hour after the speech, and resume the questions about Wright's influence on Obama. I also don't think his telling white America why black America has different standards of preaching will fly.
Let me put it this way, Obama's not going to change minds about what they see in Wright. The dismissal and repudiation of Wright must be addressed, and in a way so complete that there is no doubt that 20 years of a close relationship does not mean a thing. If Obama wants to keep Wright as part of his life, and try and convince that its a net positive, he's going to pay a deep price.
Those who think this is something that will be forgotten as long as we ignore it enough have had their head in the sand for the first days of this explosive issue. Obama's camp relies deeply on polling, and no doubt, they too see the writing on the wall.
The only way out of this is for Obama to have completely disavowed and distanced himself from Wright-- a long time ago. Now, he's stuck with it as part of his negative brand. The core of his message, of leading us to a post-racial America and his having good judgment skills, is all thrashed.
The partisan knives among the Republicans are out and won't go away. Those supporters that cleverly thought he got it all out on a Friday dump were naive. His negatives are already nearing the same level as Clinton. Obama has never had to face a general election test. He has subscribed to a post-partisan worldview in a world that is through and through caught in an extremely partisan time.
Those whom believe in him the most don't see it yet, but there's a lot crashing down around Obama right now. Is his speech the 'one chance' to turn it around? You tell. I must say though, that seeing this part of Obama, and getting beyond the marketing crapola of his faux-evangelical 'movement' campaign, I've come to like even more where he's coming from as a person. This is not a pretty and wholistic world, it's messy and ugly and out of sync mostly. There are some good parts too.