Is America Colorblind?

UNDATED (AP) - Barack Obama's convincing win in last Thursday's caucuses in Iowa, a state with just a smattering of minority voters, demonstrated the Illinois senator's support crosses racial lines and bolstered the notion that America is receptive to electing its first black president.

Whether Obama's appeal stretches beyond the farm fields of Iowa will become clear over the next month as the freshman senator faces a series of tests on different political terrain, beginning with tomorrow's primary in New Hampshire, another overwhelmingly white state.

Polls have indicated the vast majority of Americans say they would support a black candidate seeking the White House. A Gallup survey conducted in early 2007 found only 6 percent of men and 5 percent of women said they would NOT vote for a black presidential candidate, a seismic political shift from 50 years ago when more than half of those surveyed felt that way.

Though Obama's win captured headlines and gave his campaign fresh credibility, he is not the first black candidate to triumph in a Democratic presidential contest.

In 1988, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, making his second bid for the White House, piled up Democratic primary wins in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia along with caucus victories in South Carolina and Michigan.

But Obama's roots and resume, as well as his campaign, are unlike other black candidates who've run for president. The son of a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, Obama was just a child during the dawn of the civil rights movement, grew up in Hawaii and Indonesia and has not made race the centerpiece of his candidacy.

Obama received Secret Service protection last spring, the earliest ever for any presidential candidate. He acknowledged at the time that some of the threats against him were racially motivated.

Some voters, though, say Obama's race may not even be that much of a factor in his campaign.


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