Something happened to the feel-good, way-cool Democratic presidential contest in the months since a woman and a black man began their path-breaking race for the White House. By the millions, black voters voted for the black candidate and women voted for the woman. White men seemed torn, by the millions.
Sen. Barack Obama has broken historic barriers, especially among the young, as the first black candidate with a serious chance at the presidency. Voters who might ordinarily balk at a female president have backed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in her pioneering effort. Those gains have not been enough to erase divisions by race, a task perhaps beyond any mortal and any one election, nor lesser ones between the sexes. And when the campaign moves beyond Democrats, the party of diversity, and into the general election, it’s questionable how much room is left for such progress.
Voters consider race, sex
A significant minority of voters in Democratic contests have considered the race or sex of the candidates important — about one in five in each case. That’s according to surveys of voters in about two dozen states across the country on and since Super Tuesday.Whether clumsy, coarse or calculating, remarks by party stalwarts or hangers-on have brought race repeatedly into the discomfort zone, which is easy to do, suggesting a post-racial political consciousness is for a more distant future.