November 11th, 2008
07:23 PM ET
9 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. Akinola - Houston

    These kind of polls are more responsible for the "perceived" divides than anything else, JEEZ!

    Enough already!

    November 11, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  2. Shannon

    I've always seen blacks as equal, maybe the problem lies with the people who don't see themselves as equal.

    November 11, 2008 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. Yellow Dog in Little Rock

    It was a dream come true for the people to elect this particular man as president based on the content of his character, his intellect, and his policies - regardless of the color of his skin. This was the fulfillment of a dream for me, a white, middle-aged southern man.

    November 11, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  4. David Stein

    What did Obama say? Power finds it hard to concede.

    November 11, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  5. Simmy

    I pray that those millions of people who voted for John McCain simply because he was white would do some serious soul searching. It's the 21st Century – it's time.

    November 11, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  6. OurnextPresident

    No one polled me and I am a white American.
    Where do these polls come from and whom are they questioning the States that McCain won like W.Virginia.

    As a White person and a Democrat I find polls like this devisive .

    Yes we still have my fellow Whites that are not happy and maybe Racist.

    The second question I would ask in a poll after this one are you Racist?

    The Poll response would be telling .

    I the other hand I believe we have come along way after November 4th and Obama won the Popular Vote of people like myself that believe he is a dream come true candidate now President Elect .

    Will he be the perfect one maybe not but far better then 8 years of GOP Necon failed policies.

    November 11, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. Dan, TX

    I'm white. I volunteered for Obama's campaign, and during the course of that I discovered there are a lot of black people in my community that I didn't even know were there. I never noticed them before.

    I live in a rich community – I consider the average living condition to be pretty good. It was eye opening to see black and hispanic communities that were far more of a subsistence existence. People living in apartment complexes where part of the complex was a burned out shell, for example. The demarcation between white and black neighborhoods was more stark than I realized.

    The solution is to give young people of all economic backgrounds access to a good education. It isn't as much black vs. white to me as the poor vs. the advantaged.

    November 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. E.Lewis

    republicans will never admit that they are all racist rednecks!

    November 11, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. J.C.

    An Obama presidency will definitely have a great impact on the American black population. I still remember people arguing about whether or not he was black enough during the primary.

    I believe that race relations will improve when all races, that include all "mutts", feel they have an equal opportunity for the Oval Office.

    November 11, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. down on main street

    A racial divide is not what America should be worried about. It's the trailer park Palin family who almost made it into the Whitehouse that America should be worried about. How could Palin not know that Africa is a continent and claim she is a college graduate???

    November 11, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  11. Yaa Stanley

    What a dumb poll! Of course whites and blacks would feel differently regarding whether it was a 'dream come true', given blacks and whites' vastly different history in the US.

    That doesn't mean that blacks and whites are divided in general, or as your heading suggests, that there is a racial divide based on this poll!

    Again, what a dumb question and dumb poll!

    November 11, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. Wake UP America

    Just because a BLACK (which really he is BI-RACIAL) person is a president-elect, does not mean that we will all be united. GET A CLUE!!!

    November 11, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. DD



    November 11, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. Janice

    This is a great dream realized for African Americans, these people got behind a decent candidate and fought hard to get him elected. That's much more than you can say for women, who can't get together over a receipe, let alone President. If women don't get over their pettiness they are securing the positions of their daughters and granddaughters forever and it's not for the good.

    November 11, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. Reality Check richmond virginia

    count me as one of the white people who sees this as a dream come true. I am not so ignorant as to not see the significance of this acheivement in light of the history of racism and oppression that African Americans have faced in our country.........but more importantly the best person for the job won.

    November 11, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  16. Nija

    There will always be a racial division in this country till the end of time.

    November 11, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  17. Joe Banana

    Theres no question that race had a huge effect on this election. Had Obama been just a white guy with the liberal agenda that Obama has he would have not beaten Hillary in the primary. Or, at best, would have had the same result as McGovern or Mondale. So anyone who says race had nothing to do with it definetly has their blinders on.

    November 11, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  18. Ann

    I was told to believe that Obama did not want his campaign to be based on his race. Yet, when people disagreed his supporters called people racist. Now we get another survey after the election dealing with race as if the whites questioned who didn't think it a "dream come true" must be feeling something other than they didn't like his platform. Just tell me when, if ever, are we going to stop hearing him referred to as the first black President and continually talk about race and start referring to him as "President"? I am beginning to wonder with this constant reference to race whether this Presidency will be historic only because of what he looks like and that he will be treated differently than all other "Presidents" because of exactly what he himself said he didn't want done.

    November 11, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  19. S. Holt

    I don't know how or where these pollsters get their input. His mark on history is relevant to different people in different ways. I went to a private school, public high school, Catholic college (undergrad, with white only roommates), taught in the innercity and received a MA from a suburban college in the 90's. My group had to do better and be the best in everything we did, you must excel. Most people feel that way. Yes, I admire the history of King to Obama through my eyes. Even my 7 year old grandson knows who Obama is and is proud. Only in America, even through it took generations.

    November 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. Mimi

    No matter what website you go on where there are comments, you will find some lonely fool loser trashing Sarah Palin. You must be so scared of her. You are pathetic.

    November 11, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. bill for barack

    To catagorize Barack's election as a 'dream come true' depends on what kind of dreams you've been having lately.
    All I know is, that for the vast majority of Americans, the last eight years have been a long national nightmare.
    If dreams do come true, then better days are coming.

    November 11, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. KEITH

    What is the point. If you have to judge a person by the color of their are a very shallow person indeed.

    November 11, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. Griff

    Most of my Adult life, I can honistly say I cared about what happened in the USA... Now I don't give Dam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    My Priority now is Europe, and it's relation with the rest of the World..
    The USA is heading for a Depression!!!!

    November 11, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Roy - Chicago IL

    What makes me sad about this, is that Obama is half African-American, and half white. African-Americans generally regard him as one of their own, and share the pride in his accomplishents which is incredible! Whites generally regard him as one of the blacks' own. Of course there are plenty of exceptions who see the light thank goodness.

    This is an opportunity to regard someone and something as OURS. Let's not blow it.

    November 11, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  25. SD


    I'm a WHITE guy and although it wasn't a dream for me that Obama won, I AM EXTREMELY HAPPY that he won. Really.

    The question given to people is worded in such a way as to suggest a racial "divide." This is irresponsible. They should have asked white Americans if they were happy that a black president was elected......I suspect the number would've been 70%.

    November 11, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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