November 11th, 2008
07:23 PM ET
6 years ago

Poll: Racial divides persist after Obama's historic win

A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows a divide between whites and blacks about race relations in the wake of Barack Obama's election as the country's 44th president.
A new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll shows a divide between whites and blacks about race relations in the wake of Barack Obama's election as the country's 44th president.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A national poll released Tuesday suggests that for most African-Americans, the election of Barack Obama as president was a dream come true that they didn't think they would see in their lifetimes.

That's how 80 percent of African-Americans questioned in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey responded; 20 percent disagreed. Among white Americans, only 28 percent called Obama's victory in the race for the White House a dream come true, with the vast majority, 70 percent, saying it was not.

The poll also suggests a racial divide among people who thought a black candidate would be elected president in their lifetimes, with 59 percent of white respondents saying yes, but only 29 percent of black respondents agreeing.

"Polls show that whites and blacks tend to have different views on the amount of racism in the U.S." said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "So it's not surprising that they would have different views on the likelihood of an African-American president."

The survey suggests that Obama's victory may have some affect on race relations in this country.

"A majority of blacks now believe that a solution to the country's racial problems will eventually be found," Holland said. "In every previous poll on this topic dating back to 1993, black respondents had always said that racial problems were a permanent part of the American landscape.

"Even in polls taken earlier this year, a majority of African-Americans said that a solution to the country's racial problems would never be found; now blacks and whites agree that racial tensions may end."

As a result, most blacks view Obama's election as the start of a new era of better race relations in the United States.

Whites appear to disagree. Only one in three whites questioned in the poll said the election marks the start of a new era, although most predicted some improvement in race relations in the country.

"Some whites are tending to take a 'wait and see' approach; six in 10 blacks forecast better race relations as a result of Obama's victory," Holland said. "Whites are also less likely to see this as a historic moment. Unlike blacks, most whites say they thought they would see an African-American president in their lifetimes."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Thursday through Sunday with 1,246 adult Americans, including 310 blacks and 807 non-Hispanic whites, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall sample and plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for racial breakdowns.

soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. Barbara in NC

    I'll be glad when everyone is "tan" so all of this mess can be put to rest. No more white supremacy, no more wealthy control of the poor, and on and on.

    I'm white, and I'm sick of it. I know the people of color are sick of it too.

    November 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. 3strikes

    really!? i thought after an nobama win, everybody will be all fat and chummy? thats what the nobama democrats are thinking. "america is ready to unite!!!", guess not

    November 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  3. victoria

    Sadly people still consider race as an issue; I would have voted for him like all the other people I know because of who he is and what he brought to the table, nothing was based in our opinion on the color of his skin. Now we just need to protect him and his family from the uneducated bigots who make us look ugly to the rest of the world.

    November 11, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  4. Joe Regis

    Eventually, people in general will look beyond the color of one skin. For now, it would be naive to think that people are not being judged by the color of their skin in some quarters.

    November 11, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  5. ryan

    this poll is missing the point...and is stupid

    November 11, 2008 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  6. dawn

    I for one am sick of hearing Mr. Obama described as a black man. Last I checked he is half black, half white. Both blacks and whites in this country need to recognize this fact and move on from the racial issues. His parents obviously moved past it, why shouldnt the rest of the world? The one thing he has in common with voters here is he is American. That is all people should care about, and of course the job he still has yet to prove he can do. The media should really give this man some room to do what he claims he can and lets come back in a year and see if he is what he claims to be. In other words, back off everyone and lets focus on the problems at hand. We all know they affect all races, sexes, and religions. They affect all Americans. Give up the trivial cause of race and focus on making the USA strong again – it will only benefit us all.

    November 11, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  7. 60 year old, white female for Obama

    What a pointless survey!!! The MSN persists in trying to keep racism alive. Anew category created:non-Hispanic whites!! Does that mean the Hispanic, Oriental and Native Americans don't count?

    November 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. KJL

    I'm a white person who moved to the south a few years ago, and was amazed at the animosity between various groups. I had expected Black-White issues to some degree, but also discovered that the members of many churches consider themselves to be superior to others. Maybe they just feel it's more acceptable to voice your hate around here. As it is, if African Americans improve their lives because they have a wonderful family as role models, terrific. We should follow their example.

    November 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  9. MATT WILL, W-S, N.C.

    i AM BLACK AND I THINK THINGS WILL GET A LITTLE BETTER ON THE SURFACE. WHITE PEOPLE STILL THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN WE ARE AND TREAT US AS SUCH. WHITE PEOPLE AS A HOLD ARE MAD ABOUT THIS ELECTION, BUT CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I SEE RACISM EVERY DAY IN MY LIFE. THE AVERAGE BLACK PERSON KNOWS WHEN RACISM IS RASING IT'S UGLY FACE. BUT THE SAD THING ABOUT IT, WHEN CAN'T DO A D___ THING ABOUT IT. I JUST HOPE THE COUNTRY GET ON TRACK, BEFORE THERE IS A RACE WAR IN THIS COUNTRY.

    November 11, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. Ben in Dallas

    White americans, of which I am one, need to get out more. Visit any main street in the US of A. We are a spectrum of yellow, brown, light brown, pale white and copper colors. Our culture inherits from native americans, Europeans, Latins, Asians, and not the least Africans.

    There is a new opportunity to grow the american dream. Give up the fear and live a little.

    November 11, 2008 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  11. Obama 08

    As long as the Republican Party has anything to do with it, the racial divide will stay and become even larger. But, by the grace of God, it will surely become smaller and smaller in spite of their attempts to keep this country divided!!!

    November 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. PA KOLLEY

    I AWAIT THE "FALLOUT" FROM THIS CATASTROPHE NOT THAT HE IS BLACK ALTHOUGH IT PROVES THAT BLACKS ARE MORE RACIST BIGOTS WHEN 95% VOTED FOR "SKIN COLOR" AND NOT THE GOOD OF COUNTRY.

    I HAVE ALREADY ENCOUNTERED "ATTITUDE" THAT FORCED ME TO LEAVE MY SHOPPING AND RETURN HOME IN TEARS. HOURS LATER MY BROTHER WAS ROBBED AND BEATEN IN AN ALL-WHITE WAL MART PKG LOT. ITS JUST THE BEGINNING – GOD HELP US ALL

    November 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  13. paul (staunch Moderate)

    Telling it true: My lilly-white butt never thought a black man would get elected president while I lived. But I am THRILLED that it has happened. I do think it will help move things along. With the results of this election here's my brief analysis:

    We’ve come a long way in this country. We Baby Boomers opened one eye to racial bigotry. It appears now that those of Generation X have thankfully opened the other eye as well. It also appears they have opened one eye to the bigotry of sexual orientation. Maybe our grandchildren will open the other and will open one eye to religious bigotry so that our great-grandchildren will open the other. We’d finally have accomplished what our forefathers only imagined: A nation based on freedoms rather than suppression.

    November 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Sue in MI

    I hope there's some change in the racial divide, but a guy here in my small Michigan town put on his Klan getup and marched around a busy intersection with a flag the day after the election. The police questioned him and he had a gun (thanks, NRA!) but also a permit to carry. He didn't do anything, but the thought of the supremacists being egged on by Palin turns my stomach. Do they even have anyone not white or Eskimo in Alaska?

    November 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  15. Perusing-through

    One step at a time.

    November 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. jacky

    never give up any thing is possible!

    November 11, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  17. Gohi

    Let's put our prejudice and stereotype aside, and work together to deal with the critical issues like unemployment, poverty, education, climat change, health care, foreclosure instead of wasting our time on the color of skin. We are now in deep recession, this is not caused by the skin color, everybody is feeling it; White, Black, Brown, Hispanic, Native American, this is the reality, the truth.

    November 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. julio

    As can be seen from some posts, this country still has progress to be made, but this election is hopefully a step in the right direction.

    November 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. BROOKLYN

    Before these elections, living in Brooklyn, NY I found that most people blended in with each other fairly well... NY is not like the rest of the nation , it is a melting pot of all types of people from all around the World...

    Now, I feel racial tension everywhere I go... We now have our first black president elect.... Right?

    WRONG... He is half white people so let me enjoy the same happiness... Don't let me here that the "messiah" has come to raise the blacks from the bottom of the totem pole... That is flat out sick!!!
    WE ALL HAVE the SAME chance to make something of our lives and I do not EVER want to hear a sob story again from anyone...

    Let us ALL call ourselves AMERICANS for a change... If you are from Africa and you know what tribe you are from and have become an American citizen, then you are an African-American... If you were born in Italy and have become a citizen of this great nation then you are an Italian-American, so on and so on... If you were born here then you are flat out AMERICAN, thats it... The only way we are going to make this work is to FINALLY pull together as Americans people...

    STOP DIVIDING ourselves it is not working.

    November 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  20. Robbin SC

    come on CNN stop it with the racial divisiveness stories. I am an African American and many of my white, hispanic and asian colleagues are all excited and happy about the fact that the races got together for a common cause and voted in an intelligent and capable man who just happened to be biracial. Stop making it seem like whites have not gotten past the race issue because they have and we are all ready to move on as one country of all Americans. Please stop this talk

    November 11, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  21. kayla

    AMERICA IS NOT FOR ONLY WHITES, BLACKS, GREEN, BROWN ETC. AMERICA IS FOR ALL PEOPLE. NOT JUST SOME. SO GET OVER IT, AND ENJOY THE RIDE.

    November 11, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  22. New Day

    This is the dumbest poll I ever saw. As a latino, I am proud that the country saw past race and elected the better candidate but, why would it be a dream come true for me to have anyone other than a Latino be president. As for the "racial divide:" its been a week, guys–its OK if we aren't all sitting in a drum circle singing "Kumbayah" just yet

    November 11, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  23. big daddy

    I AM A WHITE MIDDLE AGED MAN FROM CENTRAL PA. I HAD NO
    PROBLEM CASTING MY VOTE FOR MR.OBAMA. WHY IS THAT SO
    HARD TO DO ?? WE WHITE GUYS HAVE SCREWED THIS COUNTRY
    UP FOR OVER 200 YEARS NOW..LETS GIVE MR.OBAMA A CHANCE.
    WE GAVE BUSH 8 YEARS TO GET IT RIGHT AND HE STILL MESSED UP !

    November 11, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  24. allan in atl

    I consider the election of Obama not only a dream come true, but will easily go down as one of the top 5 most significant moments in American history. Conversations about race in our country's history will have to change and expand way beyond the level we've been willing to deal with so far. Obama's presidency is truly a wonderful step forward for us all, and yet the tip of the iceberg for healing racial wounds. Maybe the next step should be geneology tests for all americans, so we can really face and accept our kinship.

    November 11, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  25. Steven

    If electing an african american to the office of the presidency is'nt historic, I do not know what is (Given the history of our country). What a ridiculous article.

    November 11, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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