There are many parts of the country where the local culture makes people unafraid to be quoted saying something racist, but not many of these places are interesting during the general election -- as in, not many of them are in swing states. Racists in South Carolina (by all means, not the entire population, of course) were only interesting during the Republican presidential primary, when even Mitt Romney's campaign hinted that Newt Gingrich won because he got snippy with Juan Williams, whom they considered a stand-in for President Obama, because he's black.
But there's no chance South Carolina will be in play this fall. Where's the next best place to find racists? Small town Ohio, where The New York Times' Sabrina Tavernese reports Friday on the traditionally Democratic-leaning residents of Steubenville, Ohio, who don't want to vote for a black person, even though they've had almost four years to get used to one living in the White House.
“Certain precincts in this county are not going to vote for Obama,” said John Corrigan, clerk of courts for Jefferson County... “I don’t want to say it, but we all know why.”
A retired state employee, Jason Foreman, interjected, “I’ll say it: it’s because he’s black.”
Like everyone else at the office, [union organizer Lisa] Hetrick had a story about a racist colleague, relative, or friend. “Oh God, it’s terrible,” she said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do! They’re rednecks.”
“I’ll just come right out and say it: he was elected because of his race,” said Sara Reese, a bank employee who said she voted for Ralph Nader in 2008, even though she usually votes Democrat...
“He was like, ‘Here I am, I’m black and I’m proud,’ ” said Lesia Felsoci, a bank employee drinking a beer in an Applebee’s. “To me, he didn’t have a platform. Black people voted him in, that’s why he won. It was black ignorance.”
[Retired state employee J. K.] Patrick himself feared that Obama’s race would threaten his own security and well-being. He said that it would be only natural for a black President to avenge the historical wrongs that his people had suffered at the hands of whites. “I really don’t want an African-American as President,” he said. “I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion.”
Mr. Obama barely won this county in 2008 — 48.9 percent to John McCain’s 48.7 percent. Four years earlier, John Kerry had an easier time here, winning 52.3 percent to 47.2 percent over George W. Bush.