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Is It Really About Race? Some Evidence from North Carolina.

Tom Jensen at Public Policy Polling has an interesting insight from one of their firm’s recent North Carolina polls:

One red flag for Barack Obama’s prospects in North Carolina that came out of our poll this week was that only 69% of self identified Democrats in the state are committed to supporting him this fall. […]

A lot of the Democrats not for Obama are also not for Kay Hagan. Elizabeth Dole has a 41-37 lead among them. But they are for Walter Dalton, Roy Cooper, Janet Cowell, Beth Wood, Elaine Marshall, and other Democrats. Just more evidence that this is the persistent problem of folks who identify as Democrats overall casting their ballot one way for who they send to Raleigh and another way for why they send to Washington.

So, among North Carolinian Democrats not supporting Barack Obama, more than 60 percent of them were also not supporting Kay Hagan, the Democratic candidate for governor the Senate. And lest you say: “not only are they racist — they’re sexist too!”, that doesn’t really work here, since Hagan’s opponent is Elizabeth Dole.

There isn’t much doubt that Barack Obama is losing some votes because of his race (although he may be gaining some as well). My guess is that a great number of you have encountered friends or relatives, or friends and relatives of friends and relatives, who won’t vote for Obama because he is black.

But there may not be very many of them — and they may not have voted for Barack Obama even if he were white. If you back out the math from PPP’s poll, about 4-5 percent of the sample are Democrats who don’t support Barack Obama but do support Kay Hagan. I would suggest that this is far closer to the cap on the number of votes that Obama may be losing because of his race than the 15 percent figure sometimes tossed around by other sources.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.