A local station runs a disturbing story about a Ohio resident named Mike Lunsford who has hung an effigy of Barack Obama in his front yard. Lunsford freely admits that he is against Obama because of his race.
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Meanwhile, as Ben Smith has documented, "New polling and a trickle of stories from the battleground states suggest that Sen. Barack Obama's coalition includes one unlikely group: white voters with negative views of African-Americans."
Race has become the elephant in the room of the 2008 presidential campaign, with Obama's prospect of becoming the first black president drawing some Americans closer to him while pushing others away. At times, the contest has slipped into a familiar dynamic of allegations of racism and outraged denial -- but it's also challenged some easy assumptions about race, racism and prejudice.
"What you see is it's perfectly possible to hold a negative view of at least one aspect of African-Americans and yet simultaneously prefer Obama," said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Racial feelings are not as cut and dried -- not as black and white -- as people often say."
Indeed, in states like West Virginia, Obama surrogates are addressing race head-on:
"He is black," was the first thing Kenny Perdue, the state's AFL-CIO president, said. "The gentleman that's in the White House and John McCain -- they're white men. And I'm absolutely ashamed of what George W. Bush has done to this country."
The president of the United Mine Workers, Cecil Roberts, spoke after Perdue in a parking lot set in the flat plateau below the remains of a strip-mined mountain.
"I'd rather have a black friend than a white enemy," he said. State Democratic Party Chairman Nick Casey spoke, too. Casey, 57, grew up Irish Catholic in Charleston, and he said the bus was following John F. Kennedy's bus route in the 1960 Democratic primary.
"There's a lot of people out there think you're a bunch of inbred, redneck racists," he told a couple dozen people wearing union hats and jackets. "They say you won't vote for a man who's black."
"The rest of the country thought when Kennedy ran we were a bunch of ignorant, inbred religious bigots," he said. "They were wrong, and we made Kennedy president."
How to vote
Vote-by-mail ballot request deadline: Varies by state
For the Nov 3 election: States are making it easier for citizens to vote absentee by mail this year due to the coronavirus. Each state has its own rules for mail-in absentee voting. Visit your state election office website to find out if you can vote by mail.Get more information
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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