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Campaign 2012: Will Obama's race play the role it did in 2008?

June 27, 2011 | 12:28 pm

Obama President Obama may have alienated mixed-race voters when he checked off only the "black" box on his census form, wrote columnist Gregory Rodriguez in April: "For all the post-racial symbolism millions of Americans have projected onto the president, his political choices are at odds with emerging demographic trends."

But are demographic trends as persuasive as political strategies? To answer this question, Rodriguez interviewed San Francisco State University political scientist Robert C. Smith.

"Obama made the politically correct choice. […] If he had come to Chicago calling himself multiracial, he would have had no political career. And I think if he called himself multiracial now, black people would see it as a betrayal."

 Not that any of this may matter in 2012. In his Sunday column, "Obama's popular in Europe, where it doesn't count," Doyle McManus wrote that race won't play a factor in 2012 as it did in 2008.

He won't be running as an African American or an Irish American or even a hybrid American; he'll be running as an incumbent with a record. His popularity in Europe won't help; nor will his newfound roots in Moneygall. Only an economic recovery will.

The 2012 election is likely to be as post-racial an election as America can produce. Ironically, that may not be entirely good news for Barack Obama.

What do you, the voters, think? Will Obama's race be a crucial factor in 2008, or does the economy trump race (and, frankly, all other issues)?


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--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: President Obama speaks to supporters at a campaign rally in Miami on June 13. Credit: J Pat Carter / Associated Press

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