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Obama And "downstate"

Barack Obama on Iowa television:

Obama said he believes the nation is ready to elect a black man president, a notion he said he bases on his own experience in Illinois.

"I heard this when I was running for the U.S. Senate. Illinois is 12 percent African-American. It’s not a majority African-American state or even a substantial plurality African-American state," he said. "People said there's no way folks Downstate are going to vote for you. And Downstate Illinois is pretty similar to Iowa, culturally and demographically. We ended up winning that primary by 20 points. We won the white vote, we won the rural vote, we won the farmer vote. There wasn't a vote we didn't win against strong candidates, one who spent $30 million dollars and another who was the sitting state comptroller."

But Obama's logic may be somewhat faulty. A review of 2004 U.S. Senate primary vote totals show Obama, with few exceptions, lost virtually every large county outside the Chicago metropolitan area. He won Champaign County and barely Sangamon County, but lost Peoria County, Madison County, Rock Island County and St. Clair County. In essence, it was the Chicago area that got him nominated, not Downstate voters.

And don't forget that the guy who spent $30 million turned out to be something resembling a wife beater.

I'm not saying here that Obama isn't electable. I just hadn't seen that context about his downstate votes before.  

 --Michael Crowley