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Do African-americans Think Obama's Unelectable?

Via Ed Kilgore, Scott Helman has a very interesting piece in the Boston Globe about black South Carolinians' doubts that Obama is electable:

"Personally, I don't think he has a chance in hell," said Leah Josey, a 20-year-old English major at Morris College, a Baptist school in Sumter. "All those white people? Come on."

Such sentiments are prevalent among black South Carolinians, who are expected to make up nearly half of voters in the Democratic primary in January. Nearly a third of black voters surveyed in a statewide poll in September said white Americans would not vote for a black presidential candidate.

Sentiments like these also serve to recast those opinion polls that find a pretty big disparity between the percentage of people who say they'd vote for a black presidential candidate and the percentage of people who say they think other voters would do the same. (In a Newsweek poll from this summer, for instance, 92 percent of the respondents said they'd vote for a black candidate, but only 59 percent thought the country was ready for a black president.) I've typically interpreted that disparity as a sign of people's reluctance to admit that they themselves wouldn't vote for a black candidate; but maybe the disparity reflects a sincere belief (especially among African-American respondents) that, despite their own personal comfort with voting for a black candidate, they doubt other Americans feel the same way. 

Of course, as Ed notes, by the time the presidential campaign gets to South Carolina, African-Americans' questions about Obama's electability will probably be moot--since he'll have either done well in Iowa and/or New Hamsphire (thus showing that white folks will indeed vote for him); or he won't have done well (in which case his campaign will be kaput). 

--Jason Zengerle