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Race and the 2008 Vote

- October 30, 2008

bq. [T]he role of racial attitude is important at the individual level, but the aggregate consequence is extremely modest. Some are moved away from Obama yet others are moved towards him. And among the undecided, the distribution of opinion on this measure of racial attitude is virtually identical to that in the population.

That is Charles Franklin at Pollster, with what I think is the best-yet back-of-the-envelope calculation of how racial attitudes will affect the election’s outcome. The distinction between individual-level and aggregate consequences is important. Individuals’ choices may be affected by racial attitudes, but the real question is the net effect on each candidate’s overall vote share.

Previous calculations — notably, the AP/Yahoo poll that found a 6-point effect of race — may or may not be translating effects from individual-level models into aggregate effects. From the reporting on the AP/Yahoo poll, it’s just difficult to tell.

But I’ve always found it implausible that Obama’s 6ish-point lead would somehow be a 12-point lead if not for race. The fundamental conditions in the country certainly don’t predict that kind of landslide.

To me, Franklin’s calculations sounds more plausible.

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