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. DOCS 3


    November 11, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  2. E.C.Coleman

    What does Obama and this country expect in such a Poll?
    Obama deliberately inserted 'race issues' into his campaign and tried to make his campaign about 'civil rights issues.'
    Obama was trying to rekindle all the civil rights problems of the 60's era...with his 'Yes We Can' mantra.
    These problems have not existed for many, many years in this country.
    African Americans have been free to make choices, to do and accomplish anything they wish, including ....getting an education, staying in school, and not parenting or having children until they are an adult age.
    For African Americans, all doors are open; they choose not to enter.

    November 11, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  3. John in VA

    This does not surprise me. I got inundated with racially insensitive texts from my racist relatives on Nov 5. Four hundred years of racism cannot be erased in one night. Now I am trying to avoid visiting my family as much as I can because I don't want to hear rumblings of the "N" in the White House.

    November 11, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  4. janine

    I don't understand why people were even polled about this. Fact is that President elect Obama won the presidency.

    November 11, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  5. Soccer Nana

    When the citizens of this Country develop a "Sesame Street" tolerance for each other, we all are not going to get along. We need to develop and practice toelrance of and for each other.

    November 11, 2008 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  6. Hayley, Austin, TX

    This poll sounds misleading. And as a statistician, I'd like to know more about what they did. I'm a white woman and I voted for Barack Obama ... I didn't think I'd see any President of any ethnic creed other than white ever be elected in my lifetime. I don't care if the President is white, black, mexican, asian, indian, man, woman, whatever ... as long as he or she does good job in running this nation. I think Obama's election is a good step in the right direction. Our country has come a long way since the civil rights movement just a short few decades ago, but we still have significant ground to cover.

    Congratulations to Mr. Obama on a wonderful victory.

    November 11, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  7. Tom, Houston

    I DO NOT believe in polls. You can manipulate the results of polls by the wording on the questions so that you get the result you like to get. These polls are very misleading and manipulative.
    I also believe you do not need a poll result to substantiate racism in this country or anywhere in the world.

    November 11, 2008 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  8. 3strikes

    a "dream come true" can also turnout to be a nightmare, i guess all the teary eyed people whos heads filled with nobama kool aid dont realize that.

    November 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  9. catmom

    Equal opportunity may have been achieved in some cases however after reading a lot of different blogs and posts we have a long way to go. Obama is already being held to a higher standard than our current President and this even before he is even sworn in. A lot of people are not even willing to give him a chance. Right wing radio continues to vilify Obama with rumor and innuendo. You even have members of Congress saying awful things about him. Some Republican talking heads won't even give Obama credit for running an outstanding campaign.
    There are several poster and sights that are extremely racist and calling for harm to Obama. People are saying nasty things about Michelle Obama that are completely uncalled for. It is really sad especially because a lot of people just don't get it. Black, white, brown, red and yellow, rich or poor, we all want a decent life. We all want to succeed and support our families. We all want the same thing. Most importantly we all love our country.

    November 11, 2008 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  10. Peter

    As an African American, I can say that although it is important that a bi-racial candidate was elected, I can not agree that it is a "dream come true." I do not agree with most of Obama's platform so I could not for him. Because of my beliefs, I was subjected to nearly constant verbal abuse by people of my own race. It definitely was not a uniting experience for me or my family.

    I believe only after Obama has served his first term can we possibly decide whether electing him was a "dream come true" for anyone.

    November 11, 2008 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  11. Edward

    Every time I turn on the television CNN is talking about race ... Race this, race that. Look at the title of this story, it's totally misleading, "racial divide". Can't you find a different horse to beat to keep your ratings up?

    November 11, 2008 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  12. Bill in Reston VA

    OK guys, I thought Barack was supposed to end all bigotry. So what the heck is the point of this article. That significantly more Blacks than Whites dreamt of a black president as an enormous milestone.

    Here are some thoughts. I am proud we could elect a Black President, but I really never questioned that we could. Ive got a news flash, if a woman was elected president I bet a huge percent of woman woudl say it was a dream come true but not as many men, does that make us all chauvanists? I am not concerned with the genology, but the character and one that values the Democratic principles of Freedom of Speech, Right to Bear Arms and Free Market economics.

    Since your narrow filter now can only process what I just said to make me out to be some racist, I personally dont care. I define a bigot as someone who is completely closed minded and makes decisions based solely on a persons skin color. So when 99 % of one group vote for one guy because he is black, I question where the real predudice lies.

    November 11, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  13. Paul Hackett

    I didn't vote for you Mr. Obama. I'll not go into the reasons why as I think they speak for themselves. But you are no mutt sir.
    I didn't vote for you but I respect what you mean to millions. I saw the reaction on election night and I softened up on a few things.
    I'm not talking about the reaction of the youth that you reached because the don't even know why they voted. I'm not talking about the extremist left either because they knew exactly what they voted for.
    I'm talking about the tears of an older generation of blacks that really did live in those hard times. These were real tears of real change. These people saw family and friends beaten, or crosses burning in yards, and hangings, and real segregation. They saw signs like "Whites only" They saw what most people only see in movies or history channels now. They saw it, and experienced it.
    Those tears touched me. Those tears changed me on the inside just a little.
    Don't look at this as a first step in change Mr. Obama because that first step was taken all the way back in the first words of the United States Constitution, and more step were taken during the Civil War (By blacks and whites). And look at the black leaders that have come and gone since then.
    Martin Luther Kings Dream is now a reality. Those first steps are now an arrival.
    A black man in this country can rise above, and be anything. A Policeman, Fireman, a Lawyer, a Doctor, a Reporter. Look at the sports world Players, and Coaches.
    A Black man can be President of the United States.
    I didn't vote for you Mr. Obama, Or your political change. But I will support my President, and I will support this kind of change. Your no Mutt sir
    God Bless you, and God Bless America, and the World.

    November 11, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  14. Leo

    E.Lewis – You sir... Are an idiot.... And probably a white liberal elitist....

    November 11, 2008 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  15. Vet from Texas

    I think we'd all get over this racial crap if the media would quit stirring the pot. I think we need to get rid of all racial titles as well. African American, Mexican American, I know how about American.
    Sadly there are some who wouldn't be able to make a living if they didn't make everything about race. They would never get their spot on TV and we would never hear from them again. Texas has 1 in Houston and 1 in Congress. These 2 would be lost if they couldn't fuel the fire. I think all Americans are tired of hearing how divided we are by race. I know I am.

    November 11, 2008 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  16. Chris in Va.

    @ PA KOLLEY......."a White Wal-Mart"? I had no idea Wal-Marts were color coded. As far as "racist bigot blacks who voted 95% for Obama" that figure tells me that 95% of African-Americans chose the best canidate for the job, drop the victim crap, it is very unappealing.

    November 11, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  17. AJ

    As an African American young (25) woman, I didn't think it would happen. Like D.L.Hughley said to Dr.Drew, America as I thought it was turned out to not be as such. So that gives me a new outlook on America.

    I can't say that I believe everything will be great now because I do believe race will ALWAYS be an issue in America. But I think with a Black POTUS, there will be a new reason for discussion about race in America, as we have seen throughout this election.

    Discussion about the issue is the only thing that can bring about change and possibly understanding. Bring on the discussion!!!

    November 11, 2008 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  18. john

    AMERICA SPOKE 11/4!!!!! quit trying to find the next sensational poll

    November 11, 2008 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  19. Robert

    Since Obama was the one to play the race card from the beginning – WOW, who would think anything different. Obama and his cronies used the card over and over.....just as anyone might expect a person of color to do??? No – just what anyone might expect a politican to do!

    Obama crated caverns of divide with his tactics. Thus – there is divide that will stay! Simple!

    November 11, 2008 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. ctaylor

    With 90 some odd percent of blacks voting for Obama I would agree that his election to the presidency has worsened race relations in a way that will never be healed. It has brought out the largest amount of black racists that this country has ever known. Having a degree in cultural anthropology it is disgusting to me having worked so hard to help achieve this and realize how blindingly eager blacks were to elect a man with absolutely no qualifications to be president.
    MLK is rolling in his grave-he said "I have a dream that one day men will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. "The very next day every headline blared-African American is chosen for the presidency. At least we know the truth.

    November 11, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  21. Peeeac

    You know what? I am sick and tired of rednecks getting a bad rap. I am a white, conversative, redneck woman and I am proud of it. Rednecks are some of the greatest people in this country. They will do anything for their neighbor and isn't that what this country should be about? For those of you that are biased against rednecks, perhaps you should get to know some and then come back and tell me of your experience. Rednecks live by these things, and in this order: God, Country and Family. While some rednecks may not be the most "educated" people out there, they have a hell of a lot more common sense than most Ivy League folks. We uneducated rednecks learn life's lessons from the School of Hard Knocks.

    November 11, 2008 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  22. T.Burg

    Yes, I am black and proud of it, I was raised in S. Carolina in a rural area, I tolerated many things in my days of rascism, even on the job I've held for the past 32 years, I was pulling for Obama, and he was the best candidate in the race, now I can look my grandsons in the eye and say "Go for what you want son" and yes one of them is bi-racial, As long as Hate Groups of any kind is tolerated by anybody there will be racism, Hate Groups only have themselves in mind, not their race, color, creed, or this great nation the USA, Now it's time we move on and get this great nation back on track, no matter who is in the oval office, we need to GET united, get on one accord and be the best nation in the world. and Victoria is right, RUSH go sit in a corner, bigot

    November 11, 2008 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  23. ruby

    The Bible states that we will have 7yrs of prosperity and 7yrs of famine. Now when this happen and it will, it don't matter who is President. It has nothing to do with us as a people. The bible will be fullfilled. Our votes did not put President Obama in office. God did.
    We were in recession before he was elected. The bible states a wasteful person will come to want. Who is more wastefull than America?. Our depression is coming from us being so wasteful and ungratefull. While other countries our starving we got the nerve to complain about missing 1 out of 3 meals. People that has come from little to much, will have no problem going to enough. As long as you have shelter, food, shoes and clothes what do you have to complain about.

    November 11, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  24. mary, colorado springs co

    I am an 80yo WHITE female who went to school in Illinois which had no segregation of any kind. I am glad to see America has matured to the point that anyone of any ethnicity can be President. Brains have no color or ethnicity, and people should not be judged or misjudged because of the color of their skin, but judged by their capabilities. The African-Americans have great happiness that one of theirs made it to the White House. I have great happiness of a different sort: it is an indication America is becoming a mature country and a strong leader in the world.

    I am very proud of America and the people who have made the United States what it is.

    November 11, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  25. LC in CA

    Why does the media keep making this about race? It's not about race, it's about the most qualified candidate. Of course, "white" people won't see this as a dream come true, what I (a white woman) see is an opportunity for the country to turn way from right-wing extremism and back toward a more inclusive political climate, one that matters to all of us. Race isn't the issue. Our common welfare and future is what is at stake.

    November 11, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
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