Monday, November 17, 2003

Fred Barnes Discovers Racism


BOBBY JINDAL'S DEFEAT in the Louisiana governor's race Saturday is a bigger loss for Republicans than just an office they've held for eight years. For now, it denies the party an impressive new national figure, a 32-year-old Indian-American who's destined to be a political star sometime--but not yet.

Why did Jindal lose after leading his Democratic opponent, Kathleen Blanco, in statewide polls in the weeks before the election? In a word, race. What occurred was the "Wilder effect," named after the black Virginia governor elected in 1989. Wilder, a Democrat, polled well, then won narrowly. Many white voters, it turned out, said they intended to vote for a black candidate when they really didn't. Questioned by pollsters, they were leery of being seen as racially prejudiced.

Jindal's advisers worried that he might lose the "Bubba vote," rural whites unwilling to vote for a black candidate or even a dark-skinned Indian-American. The Jindal camp's fears were realized. A Republican normally needs two-thirds of the white vote to win in Louisiana to compensate for losing nearly all of the black vote. But Jindal got only 60 percent of whites, according to an analysis by GCR & Associates Inc., a political consulting firm. Its findings were reported in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

And, yes, as Big Media Matt points out, imagine the howls of 'liberal elitism' if some liberal had written a similar article.