McCain comes out against Racial Preferences

It's being called a flip flop by the left and indeed, McCain has been opposed to these state initiatives that ban preferences in academics and government contracts as well as other areas where minorities have received special treatment at the expense of other citizens.

But McCain has also called for federal action to halt preferences so his flip flop is nuanced - and decidedly political. In addition to his home state of Arizona, Colorado and Nebraska will also have anti-preference initiatives on their ballot with a chance that a couple of more states will also be successful in placing the question before the voters.

This kind of issue plays right into McCain's hands. Here are some recent polls on the question of preferences for minorities:

• An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Jan. 2003, found that 65% opposed and 26% favored the “use [of] race as one of the factors in admissions to increase diversity” in colleges.

• A Gallup poll, June 2003, found that 69% of all respondents (75% of whites; 59% of Hispanics; 44% of blacks) opposed allowing race and ethnicity to be considered “to help promote diversity on college campuses.”

• A Newsweek poll, July 2007, found that 82% of all adults (86% of whites, 75% of non-whites) disapproved of allowing race to be considered “as a factor in making decisions about employment and education.”

• A Quinnipiac University poll, Aug. 2007, found that 71% agreed and 24% disagreed with the recent Supreme Court ruling “that public schools may not consider an individual’s race when deciding which students are assigned to specific schools.”

• A Newsweek poll, May 2008, found that 72% disapprove and 21% approve of “giving preferences to blacks and other minorities in things like hirings, promotions, and college admissions.”

John Rosenberg)

The issue is a winner for McCain and with the Iraq war winding down, the candidate desperately needs to latch on to an issue that resonates with conservatives while attracts independents. Racial preferences as a wedge issue for Republicans might just be that issue.