I don’t actually have a lot of stats to back this assertion up. Only observations, anecdotes. Still, I think any assumption that African-Americans will vote for one candidate or another during the Democratic primaries is faulty. Optimistic and naive at best.

All the middle class black folks to whom I’ve spoken — those most likely to vote — seem dubious and underwhelmed by Barack Obama’s candidacy, Oprah’s support notwithstanding. This goes for liberals and conservatives. The remarks are surprisingly similar across the generations and the political spectrum among African-Americans. Honestly, there is way more excitement about the fact that 2 black coaches will face each other in the Super Bowl. People were saying today – that’s real black history.

What’s up with that? For one thing, he is not exactly one of us. His father was from Africa. He has no legacy of slavery in his past, only the taint of association by skin color. No segregation. No violence. No American-style apartheid.

Also, garden-variety black folks are suspicious of Obama’s popularity. Whose side is he really on, anyway? Unlike Hillary Clinton or John Edwards or even Blii Richardson, Obama is still someone black people want to get to know better.

White folks seem to expect more excitement. After all, here we have a candidate of color who has a legitimate shot at the White House. Black people deep down don’t think that white people are really going to vote for him. Actually pull the lever. There’s the lesson of Harold Ford Jr. In that poll booth, idealism can fall away.

According to a recent Newsweek poll:

If the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008 comes down to a choice between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, 50 of those polled say they would most like to see Hillary Clinton nominated; 32 percent say they would like to see Barack Obama nominated.

John Bohrer at Huff Post
is right on — black support is going to be all over the place in the primaries. Our vote is up for grabs.

Candidates — start your church visits and pandering now.

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