Last week Obama said "And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or antitrade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." He got in some hot water for that. Some are saying that is proof that he doesn’t understand rural voters. He replies that he just explained the truth poorly. Personally I think he is largely right.
I think he does understand rural voters at least as well as Clinton does. The big problem, and it is a problem for both of them, is that they are on the wrong side of issues that are important to rural voters.
Clinton said "Americans who believe in the Second Amendment believe it’s a constitutional right" and I have no doubt that Obama understands that as well. But the fact is that both candidates want to seriously abridge that right in ways that go against rural values. Clinton is just less honest about it.
Religion is another area where both candidates are weak. Personally I think Obama is more credible as a Christian (as one who really believes what they say about what they believe) to me but Clinton is the better politician about it. Her show is better. Obama gets hurt because people, especially in rural areas, are being fed a lot of misinformation on one hand and on the other hand there is his whole wrong stand on abortion. It’s hard for people to understand a religious person standing for abortion when their own religion sees it as so abhorrent.
And immigration is just such a mess I’m not sure there is a right side to be on. Trade is an area that hits rural areas differently than urban ones. Its complex to solve but easy to pick a simplified side.
It’s a mess. I understand what the man was trying to say. I think he is largely right. Economics are not deep ingrained "values" though it is a huge concern. Plus it is a complex concern with complex "fixes." Religion, guns and even immigration are issues that are more easily simplified as reasons to vote. Right or wrong it is easier to say "she’s different" or "his stand on guns is wrong" or "they’re more interested in immigration as a way to get the ethnic vote" then to really take a look at the greater economic issues and suggested solutions.
There is no doubt in my mind that Obama loses some votes in rural areas because of his skin color. No doubt at all. It may not be so much that he is black as it is that he looks different. I suspect that a white candidate who looked too upper class or too different in some other way would lose some votes for that. As much as Obama loses for being black? In some areas yes and in other areas no. Racism is still stronger in rural areas than in urban ones. Denying it may win some votes but that doesn’t make it right.
I don’t think this makes Obama less electable than Clinton though. When push comes to shove and voters have a choice between a woman and a man as many people are going to vote for the man as would vote for the white in a white versos black election. Not the same people but about the same numbers. Sexism still exists to! But in both cases I think that the issues will be the deciding factor more than the "they look different" factor. None of the sexism and racism is near as bad as it once was.
In my own case, between Clinton and Obama I see little differences in issues. But Clinton is not a nice person (in my perception) and Obama is. Obama seems sincere in his Christianity and Clinton does not. Sincerity is more important than the specific religion BTW. At least in a political candidate I am evaluating. I feel better after listening to Obama and somewhat slimy after listening to Clinton. So I’d vote for Obama over Clinton without a second thought.
McCain over Clinton without a second thought. McCain against Obama? That requires some thought.