September 22nd, 2008
02:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Race could play big role in election, poll suggests

A poll finds a small percentage of voters said they may turn away from Sen. Barack Obama because of his race.

A poll finds a small percentage of voters said they may turn away from Sen. Barack Obama because of his race.

(CNN) - A new study that surveyed racial attitudes suggests that racial prejudices could tip the balance in the coming presidential election.

If there were no racial prejudice among voters, Sen. Barack Obama would receive about 6 percentage points more support, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll, designed in partnership with Stanford University.

The results suggest that 40 percent of white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, including more than a third of white Democrats and independents. A small percentage of voters - 2.5 percent of those surveyed - said they may turn away from Obama because of his race.

Though Obama is of mixed race - his mother was white, his father black - he is generally identified as black.

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Polls
soundoff (544 Responses)
  1. DJ Los Angeles

    "...Obama is of mixed race — his mother was white, his father black — he is generally identified as black."

    Why does the media NEVER call Obama mixed race? Always it seems the media is off mark and attempts to find the one bigot or racist in the lot to stir-up controversy or ratings...then bait and switch and say oh everybody in such and such city or state are racists.

    Right off the bat the media is to blame first of all because they never properly describe Obama's racial category: MIXED race or "half/white", etc.

    September 22, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Jennifer

    It's hard to believe that in 2008 there are still people who hold onto these beliefs that one race is better than the other. As a whole this nation has progressed, and I hope and pray that with each generation racism will become less of an issue.

    September 22, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Sonya

    If the citizens of this country vote for the skin color rather than the issues this time around in 08 then we are ALL doomed! Vote for the issues my friend! Skin color is just skin deep. Please open your eyes and make the best choice for America.

    September 22, 2008 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Kaye- Jacksonville FL

    A 53 year old white woman here....this is just disgusting news. To think that American voters, in the year 2008, would still cast their ballot based on racial stereotype and about ignorance. This is it in all it's shame...if McCain-Palin take over our government, no one – white, black, or otherwise – will have anything to gain.

    very very sad....

    September 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. fixthebroken

    Yes. This is something to really worry about, unfortunately. And, sadly, if Obama does lose the election, we will never know for sure if race was the deciding factor. But, it would be one of the saddest days in our history if there was a way to find out that race was *the* factor that left Obama out of the White House.

    But, you know what, I have more confidence in the American electorate this time around!

    September 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  6. Foreign observer

    It´s so sad when Americans having their roots all around the world still make race an important issue. It´s the peoples character that counts.

    September 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  7. Florida Hockey Mom

    Our boy Barack better learn a little more about how the stock market works before he goes shooting-off his mouth about social security losing money. He's either creating un-due fear, which he said he's for new politics above this; or, he better get curious, like George, and learn the details about how the Stock Market works and how a small portion of MY money, in a private system, could be invested the way I want. Obama is becoming as annoying as Hillary.

    September 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  8. Yeah, right

    Yep... all that racism is what caused people to attack HRC so brutally....and to bash and trash her out of the nomination.

    Oh wait... that was filthy vulgar sexism.

    Obama stole the nomination due to reverse- racism. That is what people are holding against him.

    it was the ugly way Obama played the race card to gut HRC. it was the constant race- baiting that turned life long democrats against Obama.

    September 22, 2008 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  9. ZZTop1960

    Wow this is scary that in this country in 2008 there are people blantly racially bias. And just think that many consider themselves lovers of God, that is very scary.

    September 22, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. OS

    They are willing the country to go from bad to worst situation, but still don't want to come out of this racial divide.

    September 22, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. sandy

    I have to admit when this all started over a year ago I was a little bias of Obama, but I gave him a chance and started listening to what he had to say, I think he would make a great President, if there is anyone out there who does feel bias please give him a chance and listen to what he is saying before you make a decision.

    September 22, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  12. Maybe if you're inbred

    Forget race, vote for the future of our economy. It really is that simple.

    September 22, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  13. Brian

    It's too bad that people think race is more important than leadership abilities. This country is making progress, but if racial bias ruins the future of the United States, then that is the path our country is going to take. I hope we aren't shallow enough to allow our country to plummet solely because of an irrational fear of skin color.

    As a white male in a white state who has seen more black people on COPS than in real life, I have to say it does feel odd sometimes that I'm supporting Obama with every ounce of my being. But when I think of how irrational it would be to give into that weird feeling in favor of a man who essentially promises to continue the ruination of this country, all because he is white ... well that just isn't a prejudice I can live with.

    That's why I'm voting Obama, no matter what COPS has led me to believe about minorities.

    Refuse to give in to your irrational fears, and embrace the biggest turning point in our culture, both socially and politically.

    September 22, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Theresa A

    If Americans decide that something as trival as the race of an individual is more important that their qualifications and abiltiy to lead. If the country decides to select an openly dishonest individual because of race, then the country deserves what is get, as McCain does offer 4 more years of George Bush. Even more scary, since he will not be running for relection, a nothing to loose attitude.

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  15. Realpolitik

    Give it a rest already!!!! our genetics are 99% the same throughout the genome but we focus on the 1% that makes us different. There is no such thing as race. The color of our skin is no different than what makes up the color of our hair our the size of ones nose or ears. it is sad to see that we have not gotten over this. Focus on what each candidate stands for and what tey can do to bring you closer to what you want to see in the government not whether you like them or not as a person or what they look like!!!

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  16. Jude

    CNN thanks for pointing out the obvious. I hope this didn't surprise anybody. Though we've come a long ways...racism still very much exists in this country. Obama/Biden should be leading by double digits if you pay attention to the positions, ideas, intelligence, of each candidate. Only way Obama/Biden loses is by "RACE".

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. sara, az

    About 2 yrs ago I directed a survey research institute at a large public university and here's some info about polls and sampling:

    1. cell phone numbers are NOT randomly called because it incurs a cost to the respondent (ie, you can't charge people to participate in a study/poll);
    2. any poll that states cell phones were included probably means people have signed up to be contacted - therefore, you would have self-selection bias (which is not a good thing);
    3. any poll that uses "likely" voters will NOT include newly registered voters since likely voters have a history of voting;
    4. it's doubtful if many newly registered voters are included in polls - it takes awhile to generate telephone lists of voters which is what pollsters buy from companies who specialize in this product. Random digit dialing is done from these lists.

    Also, I wouldn't trust any Zogby poll - out of curiousity I signed up to take online Zogby surveys and they have been so poorly constructed –skip patterns were non-existent and they appeared to have very little quality control.

    BTW, it doesn't take thousands of respondents to provide an accurate sample of the population. It does take brains, however, to determine a representative sample. Oversampling Republicans or Democrats will skew the results and apparently, that's being done lately by some pollsters.

    So, in general, polls are only as good as the pollster and the sample and the item construction – the best election poll is the one that comes out on Nov 4. Given what the Republicans have done in the past two presidential elections with voter caging and Diebold, I don’t even trust THOSE results.

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  18. Gender is worse

    Obama is lucky that he is black- well half black.

    He could have the worst curse of all- being a female.

    Ask HRC. Ask Sarah Palin.

    This race thing is not an issue- but the filth thrown at the female candidates shows that the vitriolic attacks are against WOMEN!!!!!

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  19. ohio girl

    For the first time in my adult life " I am truly Not Proud of my country"
    How in these times when children cant get educated, people or losing their homes, parents are competing with there children for the job at the local burger joint for a jobs, Banks and business that have been in existence for 100's of years are closing, the impeortance of your children are only important at birth and as soon as they reac the age of adulthood they are sent off to war... Peolpe are that ignorant that they would be that selfish that the would put the United states andtheir livlihood in jeopardy because thay wount vote for HALF BLACK MAN truly sad

    September 22, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  20. Sarah.....and my last name isn't Palin!

    Wake up America! Iowa has proved you wrong.

    We love Iowa.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  21. Oahu

    Why doesn't anyone talk about how race affects the whites.

    Almost 90 percent of blacks vote for Obama and/or blacks, everytime. They don't vote for policy, they vote for color. No one calls this racism. In fact there is much more racism with the blacks than there is with whites, yet no one wants to address this.
    Perhaps Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton can address this.

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  22. Adam Habib Dallas, TX

    So The country that is the " Beacon of Hope", stands firm for "FREEDOM", and believes in " All men are created equal" will now make election an issue based on skin color.

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  23. Gidget Goes To Washington

    That is about should be an easy victory without the racial variable.

    Its sad that so many Americans still feel this way and cling to silly prejudices over the good of the People.

    The racial bias is so ugly:
    If Obama is tolerant and patient he is a soft or a wimp.
    A white does the same he is thoughtful and intelligent.

    If Obama reacts fires back to false charges he is too aggressive and scary.
    A white man would be revered as courageously standing up for himself.

    It is hard to Obama to be able to navigate the race issue in this Country. For some people, no matter what he does it will be percieved in a negative way because of racial prejudice.

    One more reason to be proud of him.

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  24. Ladijc

    I simply amazes me that people can look past better jobs, keeping thier homes, better education and healthcare for themselves and their children and trade all that just to vote for someone who skin color is the same as thiers! It time to wake up America!

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. christy

    Polls take very small snapshots of the overall population and they are contributing to voter supression. Polls demoralize and depress the vote if people belive their candidate has a slim shot.

    We all know thereare still racist among us so this isn't surprising what is surprising is the field day that media pundits are having with inconsiquential polls.

    Ban Polls and let election day speak for itself.

    September 22, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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