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08 November, 2008

The multi-ethnic wave that led to Obama's victory

Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, broke through the color line, says Tom Huang, a faculty member of the Poynter Institute, in an article titled “The multi-ethnic wave that led to Obama’s victory”.

His election holds a profound resonance and meaning for African Americans -- particularly those who grew up and marched during the Civil Rights movement, those who know first-hand the sacrifices that paved the way for Obama's historical moment.
But while recognizing that all of that is important, Huang adds, the media needs to move beyond its traditional black-and-white prism when it reports on race and politics.

Tom Huang continues, “Obama won 43 percent of the white vote, 95 percent of the black vote, 67 percent of the Hispanic vote and 62 percent of the Asian vote, according to exit poll data published on The New York Times ' Web site. The performance of Democratic presidential candidates in the past seven elections reveals the multi-ethnic strength of Obama's win: With respect to percentages, only Bill Clinton did as well as Obama did with white voters (in 1996). Only Clinton (1996) and Michael Dukakis (1988) fared better with Hispanic voters. No other candidate has done better than Obama did in attracting black and Asian voters (the data for Asians only goes back to 1992).”

Actually these figures underscore the crucial role nomn-white votes played in Obama’s sensational victory. It was the huge gains that he earned in the other ethnic groups that helped Obama to overcome the shortfall in support among the whites.

Huang adds, “In our society, the Latino and Asian populations are growing rapidly. By 2050, the number of Hispanics will nearly triple, to 133 million from 47 million, making up 30 percent of Americans, according to Census Bureau projections. The number of Asians will grow to 41 million from 16 million, making up more than 9 percent of the population.”

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