Until recently, Barack Obama seemed to have quashed concerns about the chances of an African-American winning the White House. But as he inches closer to the nomination, more Democrats are beginning to ask whether white and other non-black voters will elect a black man in November. The question has taken on new urgency since Obama's loss in Pennsylvania, writes the New York Times.
The role of race in the campaign is difficult to assess, as exit poll respondents rarely admit that they refused to vote for a candidate because he is black. But observers say that Obama's race compounds other issues that make lower-class white voters in particular hesitate to back him: his values, ideology, experience, and sometimes elitist image. "Race is intertwined with a broader notion that he is not one of us," said a pollster who has tracked voters' perceptions of Obama.