|In super-white states, black-white racial politics barely exists, and therefore racism or subtle race-coded messages are not all that devastating a weapon against a black candidate - especially in a Democratic primary. In states with large black populations, black-white politics is very intense, but in a Democratic primary, the black vote can offset a racially motivated white vote. But in the states in between, black-white politics is equally as intense, but the black population is not big enough to offset a racially motivated white vote.
This isn't to say that race is the only factor, nor that every white person voting against Barack Obama and for Hillary Clinton is a racist or racially motivated - not at all. However, over the course of 33 separate elections, a trend like this is significant - and probably explains why the Clinton campaign has been working hard to keep the race issue at the forefront of the campaign. Barely a week goes by without some Clinton surrogate - or, in last week's case, Clinton herself - reminding the electorate of Obama's ethnicity. That's not an accident - that is an effort to maximize the Race Chasm, especially with Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky coming up.
Last week, New York Times columnist Bill Kristol said, "The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race." But really, the last thing we need are more wealthy white pundits sitting in the comfortable confines of their plush Washington, D.C. offices telling us that race shouldn't be talked about. As the Race Chasm shows, now is precisely the time we need a national conversation about the divisions that still afflict our society and culture.
Read the whole In These Times article here, or at the backup location here. As I said, this phenomenon has not yet been reported on in any comprehensive way. But I think you will agree that the graph is a troubling image showing just how powerful the race issue has become in the 2008 election.
UPDATE: I appeared on Jay Marvin's AM 760 drive-time radio show here in Colorado to discuss the Race Chasm. You can listen here.