More on racial idealism: Agnostic made a good suggestion to look at General Social Survey data to see if white Democrats in the mountain states are more racially idealistic than in other regions because of inexperience. Just raise a question about data, and I come-a-runnin'.
The best I could do was a question about how warm do you feel toward blacks. Answers ranged from very warm (1) to very cool (9). I calculated the means for each of the nine divisions of the country for whites who voted for Gore in 2000. I subtracted the means from 9 so that high scores would indicate the most warmth toward blacks (N=1,442).
Mean score of warmth toward blacks
New England 5.63
East North Central 5.61
All white Gore voters 5.56
West North Central 5.51
Middle Atlantic 5.41
East South Central 5.25
West South Central 5.22
South Atlantic 5.18
These results, overall, support the idea that white Democrats are most positive toward blacks in regions with few blacks. The South is cool, while New England, the Mountain states, and the Pacific region are warmest. The West North Central (WNC) region (SD, ND, MN, IA, MO, NE, KS), however, doesn't have many blacks but is moderately cool.
The warmest states also tended to vote for Obama, with exceptions like Massachusetts. California is also warm but voted for Hillary, but Hispanic Democrats explain that. The Middle Atlantic states are cool, and have been likely to vote for Hillary. And of course, the cool South has voted for Hillary, except in states with many black voters. So, overall, the idea that white Democrats voted for Obama because of idealistic feelings towards blacks holds up, with the WNC region being an exception.