November 11th, 2008
07:23 PM ET
10 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. richard

    stop polling you idiots!

    November 11, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. J.C.

    If equal opportunities have been achieved, why do we keep affirmative actions alive? Why can't we fill positions with simply the best qualified candidate? I belong to some minority group and can't wait for the day when we are treated just like everybody else.

    November 11, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  3. Tracy M.

    I have often thought that our racial divide is wider than it's reported. I sometimes feel a certain amount of animosity around people of color that makes me uncomfortable. However, my vote for Obama didn't have anything to do with race. I voted for Obama because he made me cry in 2004 at the Democratic convention. I said, "That man will be president someday, God willing." God was willing, and he is my president. If his election has the added bonus of helping African-Americans feel more at home around me, all the better. We are all brothers and sisters, and we are no longer bound by past generations. Peace.

    November 11, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. Joanne600

    History has been made and I am glad that Black children in America have hope that they can be anything including President. That said, please wake me when another western country elects a Black leader. Europe and our own press like to perpetuate the myth that this is such a racial society. Are there racists, of course there are, but this is not largely a racist society. However, if the media doesn't shut up and stop stirring the pot about all this race crap, I am afraid we are in for some ugly times. And please, don't blame crazy white supremacists on Governor Palin – blame it on the media who are fueling the fire. Then again you are from the socialist paradise of Michigan so I shouldn't be surprised.

    November 11, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. Tristan

    Really, what is the use of polls like this? It will stopping being an issue as soon as the media stop bombarding us with 'oh, hail, the first black pres... ever!!!'

    I'm black (well, mixed, like Obama) and I'm happy about his win, but I think we should get past that now and be happy with what we got.

    November 11, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  6. Ted:Canada

    GREAT achievement for black people!
    EVEN GREATER achievement for white people!

    Nothing more has to be said!

    WELL DONE! no matter what color you are !

    "white canadian"

    November 11, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  7. Anna

    This election – and yes this poll – have opened opportunities for better communication between black and white Americans. some day, maybe some day, I doubt in my lifetime, we will just say "Americans". But for today, there is a lot of misunderstanding between black Americans and white Americans and now perhaps we will be able to address that issue – as equals.

    I also would like to say that we white Americans know what we say when black Americans aren't listening. And maybe that is why so many of us were NOT surprised to see a highly qualified, inteliigent, talented man – who happens also to be black – elected President of the United States.

    November 11, 2008 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  8. Ilona Hussein Proud Canadian

    This information is somewhat disconcerting, are you folks
    trying to say that Baracks success in the election was okay

    Come on CNN, give us a break here! BARACK WAS NOT


    TRUE, it does not change THE FACT THAT MILLIONS OF

    So pleeeeeeeeeeeeease CNN stop trying to stir up problems
    just to feed YOUR RATINGS! SHAME ON YOU CNN!

    November 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  9. Obama Foments Racial Divide

    How? By insisting that his replacement in the Senate be black-not the best possible replacement, but a black replacement-

    And this is the unity President?

    November 11, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  10. Mary

    this doesn't happen overnight. what a silly poll.

    November 11, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  11. Justin in CA


    But it is getting better all the time. Everyone under 35 or 40 is cool for the most part. We just need 30 more years.

    November 11, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. jmix

    I am black american male, forgive me for asking what color blood do all humans bleed. The mainstream media is focusing there thoughts on how to keep our country divided. Racism is in all races and in all countries. Why are you stuck on this issue. What you are doing is given me and others regardless of our race the thought that this what you want to see. The past can't be forgotten but it damm sure can be forgiven if you (the Media) give it a chance. I think back to th civil rights days and the media reported the news of injustice to people, not just blacks died for the cause of freedom and equal rights for those who deserved it. So if you think this issue is important, it is only to those who posses hate in their hearts for anyone who isn't he or she. The media of our past helped shed the light on those issue and now the media of the present is trying to put OUT THE LIGHT of the future. Go have a drink or get layed but stop the BS!!!!!!!

    November 11, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  13. nate

    Ok so the other nite Im walking down the street here in nyc. This middle aged black man is talking to three black male teens on the corner. He says,smiling "You cant be wearin yo' pants hangin down, half off", mimicking that style favored by rappers etc. "Obama didnt get to be President wearin his drawers like dat." The three black teens nodded in agreement and smiled. I thought to myself, "Wow. Something IS changing..."

    November 11, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  14. Texas Teacher

    To ask Whites if a Black President was a dream come true is ridiculous. Of course, they were not dreaming of that. No doubt, most Whites never even thought of it! But when he ran, and we heard what his positions were; it was clear that he was the Person for the job. Not the Black man for the Job, but the Man for the job!

    Sometimes I think some people are grasping at straws to make a story out of something that is quite simple. Obama ran. Obama had the answers that most of us wanted to hear. Upon learning more about him, it was clear that he was the candidate that offered the change middle America was ready for. I don't think it mattered if Obama was Black, White, Red, Yellow, or GREEN! I would like to believe that.

    I think it would be very nice if we could get off the Black refrain! Obama is the President Elect.... for ALL of us. Of course, Blacks are thrilled! That should go without saying! But it is rather irrelevant at this point!

    November 11, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  15. Meka

    Dennis, I concur with you. Being a Mutt, I raised my two son's with the understanding "You will have to excel, beyond the Average". God did create All Men Equal, unfortunately ... Man does not see that!

    November 11, 2008 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  16. Texas Teacher

    Pollsters.... come on, get a life! The election is over! Dang, give it a break! Seriously!

    November 11, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  17. Erika

    Blacks and Whites will never move on from racial simply due to slavery

    November 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  18. Obama 08

    To "PA KOLLEY" God really needs to help you!!!

    Furthermore, why complain about 95% of blacks voted for Obama, when the majority of whites judge people just because they are black-just as you have done in your post!!! And, you are not racist!!!

    I guess that fake robbery by the McCain supporter had nothing to do with being a racist either...right???

    November 11, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  19. Jacob

    Ignoring the Hispanic thoughts on the historic election I see...

    November 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  20. Mike in Ohio

    I am a White Male, and supported Obama because he was the best candidate. His skills, his intellect, his temperament when faced with crisis, his discipline in adhering to principles and strategies, his ability to effectively lead a complex organization (e.g. his campaign), were far superior to McCain's. Skin tone was irrelevant in my choice.

    Having said that, the fact that the U.S. has elected man who identifies himself as African American, is indeed a major landmark. I am old enough to remember JFK's election, and the fear people had about whether a Roman Catholic could/should be elected. There was fear that he would be a president only for Catholics, work the Catholic agenda before the USA's agenda, etc., etc. Once we had the experience under our collective belt that those fears were unfounded, Catholicism was never again an issue for a candidate. I am hoping we experience the same with Obama and race. People will realize that this president will very capably handle his office as an American, with all of America's interests at heart. Race hopefully will become a non-issue in the future.

    November 11, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  21. Jane T, Williamsburg, VA

    This election proved that Afro Americans are racist. That's the bottom line. They will find out that Obama is truly not one of them when he starts his reign as POTUS.

    November 11, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. Teacher

    A discussion about race only matters if race concerns you for some reason. If racism isn't in your mind, there is nothing to discuss. There is absolutely nothing to discuss about race and Obama. He is beyond that. His family is a wonderful demonstration of that.

    November 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  23. A. Prince/Lexington,Ky

    I wish that everyone felt the same as I do, I feel and I believe that it doesn't matter a person race but in the world today alot are judge because of a person skin color. If people were green, purple or blue and was professional and did their research as Obama had I would have voted for them as well. When God create man kind he made all of us equal or blood is all one color. It wasn't only the votes of American people it was the Good Man Above that made it happen. This world needs to change all the hate is so sad and we are all one. My parents raise me to love everyone and there is only person who does the judging and that All Might God above. This world has alot of healing to do, I pray that Obama has touched alot of people hearts and to let them know we can all acheive if we work at it. We have to believe in ourselve and be willing to change.

    November 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  24. David

    This is a stupid poll designed with a specific outcome in mind based on the line of questioning. I believe a very large majority of AMERICANS (who cares what their race or gender is) are very excited to see how far this country has come with the election of President Obama and this is another giant step to healing the inequality that stains our past.

    November 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  25. what now

    it is wrong to overstate the race, the African American versus whites. This way the racism is only steered up, not stopped or ceasing down.
    Why we just do not say that we have another president and let's see what he will for us and world, and how.
    these labels "african american", "white", "latino", "asian" , "blond women" etc etc....are nothing new, nothing gets improved.
    Whenthis fill finally stop, and we will live normally? Without being labeled?

    November 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
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