Thursday, May 08, 2008

Slicing and Dicing the Electorate

Whatever happened to the Melting Pot? Now we learn that "Barack Obama is faring better than might be expected among Jewish voters, beating John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily general-election matchups and trailing Hillary Clinton only slightly in Jewish Democrats' preferences for the Democratic nomination."

This crucial piece of information tells us what? That Jews don't blame Obama for the anti-Semitic outbursts decades ago by Louis Farrakhan, who is admired by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright? Is this something we need to know? A wise old editor I worked with used to say about such useless information, "Uninteresting, if true."

As pollsters and political "experts" turn this election year into a demographic nightmare, pinning labels on voters by race, gender, religious affiliation, age, income, education, everything but height and weight, the dominant theme of the campaign coverage has become parsing everything that divides Americans and deciding which politician profits from which.

Obama keeps talking about reaching across those divisions, but the media story line keeps magnifying them. All of this perpetuates the beliefs of Karl Rove et his ilk that the way to win elections is to divide and conquer.

Voters, who have seen how well that worked out for them in the past eight years, may be ready to defy the labels and surprise the experts. Now that would be interesting, if true.

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