Barack Obama goes into this week's convention in Denver with only the slimmest of leads—or, as some polls suggest, trailing John McCain. In a year when it's widely assumed that any Democratic candidate should be a shoo-in, many in the press have suggested that Obama's race is costing him support. Not so, writes Matt Bai in the New York Times, who says that the candidate "faces genuine obstacles that are more salient than skin color."
After two consecutive elections in which the electorate went nearly 50-50, an Obama blowout "would defy the laws of politics." Avid dislike of George W. Bush isn't enough to shift loyalties that fast. And while race will of course figure in this election, the Democrats face a real danger of dooming a black candidate by dismissing white voters as retrograde, rather than confronting their real concerns about his youth and inexperience. "Caricaturing a large subset of voters as ignorant," says Bai, "has made those voters even less inclined to pull the lever for the Democrats this time around."