Angry White Men

R.W. Johnson on Obama’s electoral arithmetic

Running for Congress in Louisiana in 1961, Joe Waggonner, a conservative Democrat and militant segregationist, faced a tough challenge from the Republican candidate, a wealthy oilman called Charlton Lyons. Waggonner came up with a novel – and winning – argument: he warned that electing Lyons would help bring about a competitive two-party system in which a contest could easily be tipped one way or the other by the black vote. This, Waggonner pointed out, was how Jack Kennedy got elected president in 1960, and that sort of thing would never do in Louisiana.

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[*] How Barack Obama Won: A State by State Guide to the Historic 2008 Presidential Election by Chuck Todd, Sheldon Gawiser and Ana Maria Arumi (Vintage, 258 pp., £8.50, January 2009, 978 0 307 47366 0).

[†] The Year of Obama: How Barack Obama Won the White House edited by Larry Sabato (Longman, 304 pp., £16.99, April 2009, 978 0 205 65044 6).