Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Race Costs Obama Six Percent

An absolutely fascinating poll using inquiries about white people's attitudes toward black people suggests that Senator Barack Obama's lead over Senator John McCain would go up by six percentage points if America could be instantly purged of its racial animus.

The poll, which was conducted on-line because it is believed people will be more truthful giving non-PC answers to a computer screen, found that forty percent of all Americans, including one-third of white Democrats, held unfavorable views toward black people generally.

It is critical to note several findings so the wrong conclusions are not reached from this poll.

First, Republicans harbor racial prejudice as well as Democrats, but their opposition to Senator Obama is overwhelmingly based on a reluctance to vote for ANY Democrat for president, regardless of race.

Second, more white people say positive things about black people than those white people who say negative things.

Third, many white people who say negative things about black people are still eager to vote for Obama, meaning that they can assess Obama as an individual, regardless of the group labels they give black people.

And, finally, race is NOT the biggest factor driving away white Democrats from Obama. Many do not believe he is capable of bringing about the change they want.

Having said all of that, this poll makes it pretty clear that a close election will be decided by race, just as race affected the Democratic primary outcomes. Among white Democrats, for example, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well.

In addition, a quarter of white Democrats agree with the statement, "If blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites." Though, to my knowledge, Senator Obama has never embraced a contrary notion, those who agreed with that statement curiously were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.

Finally, despite our progress in race relations, over half of white people gave a more negative impression of black people than they did of their own kind.

In short, if Obama had begun in the U.S. Senate ten years before he actually did, right now he would be a sure thing. But this would only be because he could more easily overcome the votes of a sizeable segment of the white American population that harbors subconscious racist sentiments.

Were Obama a white man with the same resume with such an unpopular opposing party president? Yeah, he'd be crushing McCain.


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1 comment:

True Conservative said...

If Obama were a white man with the same resume, Hillary Clinton would be the Democrat nominee. In fact he would be John Edwards. Obama has no resume. There is no question that some people let his race stand in the way of voting for him and shame on them. At the same time there are more people who will vote for him based solely on his race. Shame on them. To paraphase Dr. King, he wanted for the day when a man or woman would be judged on the content of their character and not the color of their skin.