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. DC

    It's so funny that so many people now want to point out that Obama is "half White" . In the early 1900s it was white racists who made the one drop rule , which stated that if a person has one drop of black African blood they are Negro . It was done so that no one with African blood could benefit from the privileges afforded to whites. Most blacks in America who have an American lineage dating back to slavery are of mixed heritage.

    Here's a question: We often hear about the number of blacks who are in prison. Should we start doing DNA tests to find out how many of them are part White as well in order to refer to them as something other than African-American, or is it only the President-Elect whose African-American status some would like to adjust? Maybe we'll get to the day when we can remove these labels of race, but until then Barack Obama and the first family are Black/African-American. You can't have it both ways.

    November 11, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  2. Susan, NC via LA

    Did you really expect racism to disappear overnight?

    November 11, 2008 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  3. Brian

    I am still trying to shut up the people who are upset that Obama got 94% of the "black" vote. John Kerry got 89% and Bill Clinton got 92%. So please, stop using race as your reason to be upset.

    November 11, 2008 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  4. Chris in Va.

    @ Leo.....what gives you the right to call another poster an idiot and needs theropy for saying his family is racist? You are a sad excuse for a human being. BTW...pack away your white sheets and hood, your kind is no longer welcomed by REAL PATRIOTIC AMERICANS!!!!!

    November 11, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  5. Aysha Hussein

    Why do they only call black people African-American while calling white people Americans despite their immigration history? Is this not racism itself? For racism to not exist, every Americans should be regarded as Americans despite the color of their skin. I see no difference between human beings. They all die, get sick and stay in the womb for nine or so months.

    November 11, 2008 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  6. Expanding influence

    What a stupid poll. Of course it's not a "dream come true" for white people, because they aren't black. It has nothing to do with racism, it's just that this dream is a blessing for blacks precisely because of their background in this country. As a white person I'm overjoyed, but it's not my dream it's theirs, they lived through those rough times, I did not. So how can I lay claim to that?

    November 11, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  7. California Gold

    President elect Obama has worked for everything he has. No one gave him anything. Every 100 years we are fortunate to have a leader like this. For that we are glad and for that we look forward to a better tomorrow. One where we aren't lied to and our Constitutional Rights trampled.

    November 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. Farrell, Houston, Tx


    November 11, 2008 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  9. THE O

    The title of this story should be that. That Racist Republicans still exist!!!!

    November 11, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  10. Pam

    Did anyone really think that one election would erase hundreds of years of racism in this country? Obama won because he was the best person for the job. Not because of, or in spite of, his race.

    November 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  11. Lynda in Alberta, Canada

    When America elects a Native American woman as President, that will be the day that the bottom will rise to the top.

    November 11, 2008 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  12. John

    November 11th, 2008 9:54 pm ET

    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.

    Wow.. You Americans seem a backwards people. Is this who you really are? Roses are red type of hate nursery rhymes. And funnily aimed at whom? I have served with Hispanic, white and black American soldiers that have bleed so people like you can sleep better at night, only to be spat at. May be you should pick up a gun, get drafted or pay some respect to one who does on your behalf. If you have this much hate among yourselves, why should the world respect you at all. In the end of the day, your diversity is your strength. Tear at that, and you are only Pickens for the crows.
    Remember Vietnam.......

    Grow up!
    John London

    November 11, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  13. barbara miller

    Dishonorable candidates like John McCain and Sarah Palin – simply continue to foster such unthinkable behavior. When the history book is written – and I hope it is while McCain is alive – everyone will have to come to terms with how the ugliness of the GOP incited anger, led to continued threats on Obama's life. McCain = country last and he needs to hear it from as many of us as possible!
    CNN – don't shy away from this by not posting our thoughts about this subject please!

    November 11, 2008 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  14. College Student

    This world is so corrupt and last thing we need to worry about is the color of his skin. I am an African-American and I did not vote for him because he was black. I voted for Barack because he stood for change and the "no good" republicans tore up the white house and america apart! I represent the new generation and color is no importance to me. Its about having a president who will understand and help the american people. Stop stealing money from us and being money hungry. Obama can do the job as president and america should be proud to see how far we have come. We are all made from "one blood" rather you want to believe it or not. Generation Y is taking over so to all the oldies who are still upset b/c a black man is in the house "too bad" because you are out numbered now and will be for years to come, we control this! We voted him in and we will again after 2012 b/c race is the not factor. GO OBAMA!!!!

    November 11, 2008 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  15. Peter (CA)

    Not so sure this poll makes as much sense as they think it does. It was not a dream come true for me. I appreciate the historic significance and I am proud to have been a small part of it.

    This type of question only gives a chance for right wing nut jobs like 3strikes, PA Kolley, Mimi, and Jane T. to spew their hate.

    November 11, 2008 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  16. 40oz

    Obama's presidency by no means represents the end of racism,
    just a hopeful sign of the beginning of the end

    November 11, 2008 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  17. Sue in MI

    If you had bothered to listen to the man, and read about him, and listen to the news people anywhere other than Fox, you might find that you actually LIKE Obama, and that his policies are good.
    And if you bothered to tune in to someone other than Limbaugh and O'Reilly and Hannity, you might hear that your precious Bush is in the process of expanding spying to local police to include EVERYONE, without a warrant and for no reason other than they can do it. He wants to allow uranium mining near the Colorado River, in the Grand Canyon, a place that supplies drinking water for three states. Hope you appreciate contaminated water. He wants to scrap the Endangered Species Act, and who knows what other horrendous things he has planned for these last weeks. Maybe you should spend some time worrying about that attempt at fascist control rather than Obama, who so far is doing exactly what he said-looking for the best people for the offices, and listening to many folks. This is not a power hungry simpleton. This is a leader. You might not recognize what we've been lacking for 8 years, a leader.

    November 11, 2008 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  18. Drew

    What the media should do now is shine the light on Racist areas in this country. It needs to stop.

    The media should Keep talking about those who are been treated differently because of their race. Now is the time to turn the page fully.

    I know we can't force people to love everyone equally but when its taken outside of their home its a problem and we need more serious law for racist actions.

    November 11, 2008 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  19. Griff

    What will Bidon's "Roll" be? Abide with me!!!!!!!!!

    November 11, 2008 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  20. Kate

    Stop this. Stop making headlines like this. The election of Obama is historic and it will and already HAS positively effected race relations in this country. Stop trying to raise new divisions in the name of money and ratings.

    November 11, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  21. sandee in Portland

    There is no point to this poll except to give people something to rant about. Obama wasn't elected because he is an African American. He was elected because he was the best person for the job. As a white American, I didn't see a black person campaigning. I saw a person with higher intellect than normal, a person that was organized, a person that was calm, rational and thought things through before making a decision, a person who truly thinks of "country first", a person whose values were like mine and who wants the direction of this country to go the same way as I do.

    November 11, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  22. d in fl

    Yea 90 percent of black folks voted for obama, but the same percentage would have voted for any dem. Thats not racism its doing your research and knowing whats best for you. If palin was black do you honestly think they wouldve voted for her knowing what she stood for?

    November 11, 2008 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  23. KJL

    I was taught that the first "slaves" in America were white indentured servants who were so hopelessly in debt they were never free. When I read about the horrors that African slaves suffered through both coming here and after, I realized that they must have been exceptionally strong to survive. Their decendants should be proud, not ashamed.

    November 11, 2008 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  24. Vet from Texas

    You know this just shows how out of touch the media and politicians are with Average America. You will always have the Lunatic Fringe: the KKK, Skin Heads, Black Panthers, Reverend Wright, David Duke, Louis Farrakhan etc. and those that follow these morons and their ideaologies, but main stream America doesn't believe this way.

    November 11, 2008 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  25. Wanderer

    - SMILE -

    This year’s election has proved that the U.S. is the true Democratic country. It would be a dream for non-white people to see a non-white president in a white majority country if it were the country other than the U.S. The U.S. will forever be a strongest country in the world if it maintains its Democracy. I hope other countries will follow the U.S. We the people of America, regardless of skin color, should be proud of ourselves.

    - SMILE -

    November 11, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
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