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Obama wins — Have political scientists screwed up again?

- January 25, 2009

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bq. “What, if anything, in political science research on race (broadly defined, to include ethnicity, perhaps other group identities…) would have led us to expect Obama’s electoral victory, either in the Democratic primary or in the general election?”

I raise that question on behalf of sometime “Monkey Cage” denizen Jennifer Hochschild, who continues:

bq. “I come to this question after catching up over Christmas vacation on a lot of journal reading, almost none of which would lead one to predict that voters in Iowa etc. would support a black man with the middle name of Hussein for president, especially over a Clinton and/or a war hero. So have we political scientists screwed up again in our ability to understand and analyze contemporary politics? (I remember a colleague publishing an excellent book on the political future of East Germany about 3 months before that nation disappeared). If not, what success can we claim for ourselves — not so much in forecasting or predicting per se, but in explaining what has changed in American society such that an electoral victory that would have been unthinkable a few decades ago actually occurred?”

Okay, “Monkey Cage” readers… How would you respond to Jennifer’s question?