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. JO

    Black is black and white is white .... mixed together makes a very GRAY world. That will not change anything whether you like it or not.

    November 11, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. Drew Anderson

    Come to Canada, that's all I can say. White Canadians are over the moon and ecstatic. One of my colleagues said that he was honored to have witnessed this. Not all whites share these 'backwoods' views. What a wasted moment!!!

    November 11, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  3. Leo

    John in VA – you sir are an idiot... and most likely a white liberal elitist. who may need therapy.... maybe your racist family will join you...

    November 11, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  4. Rumsfeld

    What I find interesting is just how many white people or light skins actually have a black or other race ancestor. For pete's sake people....what are you so afraid of?

    November 11, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  5. GA for Obama

    3strikes- btw, Repug plant, 'the dream come true' was by WHITES

    November 11, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. Rita - Canada

    I feel so sad when I read about the racism that is still so prevalent in the U.S.A. We were all made equally, we all have red blood and should all be treated the same. What really gets me in the U.S.A. is that it is acceptable for blacks to fight wars with whites, to lose their lives in wars but they are treated like dirt when out of uniform. Come on, Americans, make your country proud. Be real Americans and love your neighbour as yourself. ALL your neighbours. Haven't you already lost enough respect within other countries. Don't you think it's time to start to fix things. I am happy for President Elect Obama, Michelle and the two girls. I wish we had them here in Canada.

    November 11, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  7. Sarah Smith

    I am infuriated to read about the AIG

    executives' expenses after the bailout..


    out of THEIR pockets into OURS!


    and NEEDS a PURGING!

    Where are the guillotines?

    November 11, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. jmix

    John in VA, you are the key to your families change in their thoughts. You can not let your family go and you can not change your thoughts on how people should be treated. You are not to blame for history but you have helped change future. I was an independent voter until I checked the facts and closed my eyes and listen to each canidate and their message. I voted for obama not because of his skin color but his character and his intellegence. Family is family and when you miss them you will blame the world for the separation of them which turns into dislike and boils over to hidden hate. love your family without shame. I am black american male.

    November 11, 2008 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  9. Limbaugh is my Saviour

    Im white,but Ive always been told the dumbest people were Irish and scottish.

    November 11, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. GA for Obama

    Tom, Houston- I don't think ANYONE intentionally manipulates polls. Besides, after this election I think polls are the most reliable source of least, for an inside look

    November 11, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  11. julio

    President Elect Obama is an American. No more of this half this half that nonsense. We are all Americans, so you all better start behaving like such. Just because the Bill of Rights gave us many freedoms, doesn't mean we have the freedom to act like dummies (I would insert a different word here, but I know better.)

    November 11, 2008 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  12. Vet from Texas

    One more thing I also do not think it helps the cause to say that people did not vote for Obama because he is black. Some probably did not, just as some probably voted for him because he is black. I did not vote for him because of his views. I am a conservative and I would have voted for a conservative of any race over McCain or Obama. Can we move on now!

    November 11, 2008 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  13. Neeraj

    To all the ppl posting negative Obama comments, go suck it. He beat your has-been maverick and his dumb blonde-worthy vp by a landslide. Next time, support someone who actually knows what he's talking about.

    November 11, 2008 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  14. Carl

    I'm not interested in President Obama's skin color, its not going to put food on my family table. If he governs this country according to the constitution and the law, I'll be the first to cheer and support him. If he doesn't, likewise, I'll be the first to turn against him. I didn't give bush a break when he screwed up, and I won't give President Obama one either.

    November 11, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  15. bridgette

    The same people who did not like each other before this are the one's who do not like each other now. The rest of America has moved on and are willing to get to know one another. Those people who hate each other probably are not very happy in their lives. This is a great time in America and it is time we all realize that we are in this together. Do we have to be best friends no if we just respect each other the world would be a better place.

    November 11, 2008 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. LS

    We all are born the same way, we all die the same, and we all bleed the same color.

    I don't understand how racist could exist, but then again, the world isn't perfect. My children, including myself, don't see color. I believe 'a racist' is a person of ignorance, is un-God-worthy, and is untrustworthy in all areas.

    November 11, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  17. Sally in Oregon

    It won't be until the stench of racism is extinguished and those who choose color over character are laid to rest and their archiac beliefs and thinkings are smothered to extinction that we will truly move forward.

    November 11, 2008 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  18. TM in Colo

    Obama is an American first and foremost. What most people seem to forget is that he is also white. With small minds thinking black and white instead of "American", this country will never heal.

    November 11, 2008 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. Linda from Ohio

    This pole is way out of line!! Unity.. is what Americans wants. Stop trying to divide people into cadagories. President Elect Barack Obama won the election because he had it right. We the people want Unity & Change". We are ALL Americans.

    November 11, 2008 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. 3strikes

    so the first black people that stepped foot on americas soil started thinking right away "i wanna become president of america?"

    November 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  21. Lost in Texas

    I personally will be happy when we can talk about Barrack Obama being a president and not just a BLACK president.

    Trust me if you want to bring the haters out just bring up the topic of race and here they come, especially now that it can be done on the internet where few know who or where they are. Some of the responses on forums like this prove that. Us and the so-called "liberal" media need to move past this and lets move forward PLEASE.

    November 11, 2008 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  22. ohio voter

    During the campaign McCain said that " He Knew how to catch Bin Laden" Now that he has lost the election Will he call the pentagon, the FBI, The Police Department, President or President elect and tell them HOW ?

    November 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. Sarah

    Obama wouldn't be elected unless this terrible economic mess did not happen and the fact people were sick and tired of Bush.

    November 11, 2008 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  24. EG in Cali



    ...the day when an individual of "complete non-white" descent achieves what President Elect Obama has achieved, we'll have this conversation...again.

    November 11, 2008 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  25. USAF RET

    We are looking at this the wrong way.

    Instead of saying: African or Black American, White American, Asian American, Latino American, Native American, etc. we should be saying American Black, American White, American Asian, American Latino, American Native, etc.

    We are ALL Americans first–period. We may have different racial backgrounds but that is part of being American.

    November 11, 2008 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
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