Whispers of Race Persist

31 October 2013 |permalink | email article

John Harwood wrote in The New York Times last week President Obama sought to turn attention from health care to immigration—in other words, from one racially divisive issue to another. Whites tend to hold negative views of Obamacare, while blacks tend to like it. Now two factors have combined to raise the racial volume. First, the growing voting strength and allegiance of black, Hispanic and Asian Americans have made nonwhites an increasing share of the Democratic coalition. Second, conservative whites are bitterly resisting both Obama and his agenda.

Stanley Greenberg, a pollster for Bill Clinton and other Democrats, has observed in recent focus groups among core Republican voters highlighted anxiety that “big government is meant to create rights and dependency and electoral support from mostly minorities who will reward the Democratic Party with their votes.” Fred Steeper, a Republican pollster, who has advised both Presidents Bush, worries about the renewed attention to racial divisions for two reasons. One is it could taint what he calls the Republican Party’s “legitimate argument” in favor of self-reliance and smaller government. The Democrats’ problem is winning over whites. At the moment that’s the challenge of government—as Obama’s struggle to implement his health care law demonstrates. The risk for the country is heightened racial tensions.



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