Yes, I know, America is a racist country just like we always thought it was. Right? Well, actually, wrong, despite the insistence of those who argued, among other persistences of the old order, that "whites simply won't vote for black candidates for higher office." How disappointing the Obama campaign must be to them, how deeply exasperating. America has once again let them down.
It is no surprise to me that it is Abigail and Stephan Thernstrom (see my posting on their work awhile back) who have marshalled the statistics to prove that a fundamental change has occured with regard to race in American society, and the Obama campaign is the latest and most devastating refutation -- no, repudiation -- of the grim assumptions.
Forget, for a moment, about white women, many of whom have been drawn to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton through a strong sense of sisterhood. Look instead at white men. In a remarkable number of states, according to exit polls, Obama won more than 40% of the white male vote. Those states included Clinton's home state of New York (where Obama got 43%), Arizona (45%) and, most remarkably, the Deep South state of Georgia (46%). Indeed, in Connecticut, New Mexico, Illinois, California, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin, his support from white men was in the quite amazing range of 56% to 64%.
In fact, the Obama race to the presidency would have been an even clearer shot had it not been for the whining woman who is his opponent.
What's more, Obama would probably have won similar levels of support from white female voters -- if he hadn't ended up in a race against a woman. After all, there's no evidence to suggest that white women are less likely to vote for an African American candidate than white men are. If Clinton weren't running (and pulling away votes based on her gender), there's no reason why Obama's numbers among white women wouldn't be as high as his numbers among white men.
Of course, the stunning accomplishment of Barack Obama does not absolve the nation of its racism. But stands for something nonetheless.