Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And now this on rural Nevada voters

The blurb now on the NYT webpage under Adam Nagorney's story, "Candid Voices on Race and the Campaign" is "Obama volunteers in rural Nevada face a delicate task in convincing some white voters to support their candidate."

This is part of the Times' coverage of the role race plays in the Presidential election, which includes Jennifer Steinhauer's story, "Volunteers for Obama Face a Complex Issue." The story's dateline is Elko, Nevada, which is barely non-metropolitan with a population of 45,291. The report implies -- contrary to Kirk Johnson's story which was the topic of my last post -- that those with little exposure to African-Americans (including many rural Nevadans) are more biased against them.

One really fascinating and complex part of the story is this exchange between Elko resident Veronica Mendive and an Obama canvasser.
“I don’t want to sound like I’m prejudiced,” Ms. Mendive said. “I’ve never been around a lot of black people before. I just worry that they’re nice to your face but then when they get around their own people you just have to worry about what they’re going to do to you.”

[The Obama volunteer] responded: “One thing you have to remember is that Obama, he’s half white and he was raised by his white mother. So his views are more white than black really.” She went on to assure Ms. Mendive that she was so impressed with Mr. Obama the person, that she failed to notice the color of his skin anymore.

Steinhauer notes that this exchange provoked "outrage" among readers when it was posted on the the Times Caucus blog. One reader commented: “Amazing how even white people who support Obama and are canvassing for him default to classic white supremacist language.” As Steinhauer goes on to discuss, however, an admonition of the voter is hardly likely to help the Obama cause . . .

Complex indeed.

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