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Testing the Melissa Harris-Perry Thesis

Remember when Melissa Harris-Perry claimed last year that white liberals were abandoning Obama because of their racism?

She didn’t cite any polls at the time. But now we have the definitive poll. And what does it tell us about the Harris-Perry thesis?

I couldn’t find exact data from yesterday’s election (the polls I’ve seen don’t do cross-tabulations by race and political ideology). But here’s what we’ve got so far: Obama won 86 percent of the liberal vote. The only other group that gave Obama a higher percentage of their vote were African Americans (93%).

But ah, you might say, in 2008 Obama won 89 percent of the liberal vote. That 3 percent must have deserted him because of their racism.

But guess what? In 2008 Obama got 95 percent of the black vote. How are we going to explain that 2 percent drop among black voters?

The basic truth is: Obama did extremely well among liberals and African-Americans in 2008.  And he did almost as well with those exact same groups in 2012.


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