For much of the Democratic primary season, Sen. Barack Obama has strategically avoided race by attempting to transcend it.
In his ambitious speech responding to criticism of his affiliation with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr., Obama took the issue head on and placed it at the center of political conversation. The candidate of unity laid bare fundamentals of the deepest division of our society.
Now that race is on the table, however, experts say it will undoubtedly affect voter behavior and campaign strategy in the coming weeks, remaining a central campaign issue.
"The divide in America with respect to race is a deep one, an enduring one," said Vincent Hutchings, a political scientist specializing in voter behavior, campaigns and African-American politics at the University of Michigan.