But how did things turn around so fast? They didn’t. They may never have turned in the first place.
Largely overlooked in the understandably good feelings generated by the election of our first black president was the simple fact that white America did not vote for him.
Most white Americans voted for John McCain. In fact, Barack Obama lost the white vote in 2008 by a landslide. While Obama won the overall vote by 53 percent to 46 percent, he lost among white voters by 55 percent to 43 percent.
Whenever I give speeches and mention that no Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson has won the white vote, I always see some head shaking in the audience, as if that could not possibly be true.
But it is. Three Democrats have become president since Lyndon Johnson — Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Obama — but none of them has won a majority of white votes.
How did they become president? By picking up enough white votes along with enough minority votes to build a winning coalition. In Obama’s case, he got 43 percent of the white vote, 95 percent of the black vote, 67 percent of the Latino vote and 62 percent of the Asian vote.