June 23rd, 2008
10:45 AM ET
14 years ago

Poll: Obama's candidacy not affected by racial divide


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(CNN) — While the issue of race may be front and center this election cycle, a new poll suggests that Americans’ racial attitudes may have little overall impact on Sen. Barack Obama’s historic candidacy.

An ABC/Washington Post poll conducted June 12-15 indicates that roughly three in ten Americans express “less racially sensitive views,” such as having some feelings of prejudice or generally believing that African-Americans in their communities do not experience discrimination. Sen. John McCain holds a 26-point advantage over Obama with this group of voters.

Of the 32 percent of white voters who admit experiencing feelings of racial prejudice, 31 percent think Obama would “do too much” for African-Americans if he is elected president.

WATCH Bill Schneider's analysis of the latest poll

Among the roughly 2 in 10 white voters with “high racial sensitivity,” however, Obama leads McCain by 19 percentage points. (This group of voters is most likely, among other things, to have interracial friendships and/or believe that African-Americans experience discrimination.) Among white voters with a “medium” level of racial sensitivity, McCain leads Obama 18 points.

The overall result? McCain is favored among all white Americans by 12 points (51 to 39 percent). According to CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider, McCain’s edge among white voters is consistent with how well Republicans have done in several of the most recent presidential elections.

In 2000, Al Gore lost white voters by 12 points. In 2004, George W. Bush had a 17-point advantage over John Kerry among whites.

Schneider notes that, if Obama is going to win in November, he will most likely have to do as well as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did among white voters.

In 1976, Carter defeated then-President Gerald Ford in part by only losing the white vote by five points. In 1992, Bill Clinton lost the white vote to George H.W. Bush by only one point.

The poll, conducted by telephone with 1,125 adults for a sampling error of plus or minus three points, found that while the overall prevalence of prejudice hasn’t changed much in recent years, Obama’s candidacy has improved voters’ outlook for the future of race relations.

60 percent of African-Americans and 38 percent of whites believe that Obama’s candidacy will help heal the country’s racial divide.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (216 Responses)
  1. Mike G- Ventura ca

    This is THE YEAR for CHANGE! America needs healing– and unification. The mean-spirited gop and a few fanatical supporters of Senator Clinton can not and WILL NOT stop progress.
    Our Nation has to have change....and all the old ways are thrown out and a new day in American Politics has begun. YES, WE WILL.
    Obama 08

    June 23, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. Teddy

    There will be some problems with race. There are some KKK and some organizations and individuals like that. But they are a small group of people and will not affect the election results. McCain campain will say Obama is too inexperienced. But I think that is not racial. Obama said his opponenets would say he was too young and inexperienced. But I think this is a reasonable debate about experiences. Of course, McCain's age should be an issue too although discriminating based on age is against civil laws. McCain would 76 when his first term ends. Is he health enough for four years?

    So far the race is not an issue at all in general election. If you are honest, you should admit Obama benefited as a black during primary against Clinton. He consistenly won about 90% of black votes that are about one third of the Democratic primary voters. There are no other reasons he should win more black votes than Clinton. In fact, Clinton's universal health coverage might be good for blacks.

    Some Republicans (maybe not McCain campain) will likely attack Obama out of touch with common Amercans (values), tax and spending, too liberal, not patriotic, too soft on crimes and foreign enemies, and so on. But I do not think that is racial because Republicans have attacked John Kerry, Al Gore, Mondale, and Mike Dukakis in the same way. If Obama's campain reacts to almost every attack against him as racial, it will not do anything good for him.

    Obama needs to focus on issues. So far McCain campain and Republicans are only focusing on issues. If Obama's campain over reacts to every attack against him, the campain will be turned into mudsliding and that will not do him any good. A muddy election will benefit McCain more.

    June 23, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Anthony

    CNN you all are starting to make the things Rev Wright and that other
    preacher said seems like they were right..........Rev Wright must be smiling right now.

    June 23, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |


    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  5. jay nyc

    • How can you question the patriotism of a man who only made it to this point in his life because of the opportunities that AMERICA gave him? Obama is GOOD for me, GOOD for you, and GOOD for AMERICA! Yes there are racist people, and they will always exist, but they are NOT growing in numbers. America will make the right decision and vote for OBAMA because is the best candidate!

    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |

    Sadly, racism will always be around.
    And I feel that is what makes Barack, I mean President Obama, so special, he is the perfect mix of cultures both made and mixed in the USA for us to enjoy! He will to try to save us from the perils of another four or eight years of 95% exactly the same thing.
    Huge Sale at Macy's 5% percent off. That's almost free right?

    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. MLG

    Who cares about the color. I just don't trust Obama and thats why I will not vote for him. MCCAIN 08

    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  8. LNader

    It's a shame that the most unenlightened, bigoted people are the same group that has nothing better to do than complain about everything and leisurely vote in the middle of the day, between rounds of golf or Mahjong.

    Young, educated people: the system is hosed. The "typical Republican demographic" is already living off your taxes, using a flawed system that will not provide you anything back for as much money you have been forced to put into it. Let's get out, vote -again-, just like we did in the primaries, and start stacking the deck for our future.

    Is Obama The Second Coming? Nope. Is he Going To Fix Everything? Nope. But it is a fact that he brings to the table life-experiences no president has ever had before. And he's proven, at least twice, he can buck the system and succeed: even make it better.

    Why not Obama? What's he going to do? Get us into a war? A recession? Tarnish our already shaky foreign policy reputation? Oops, sorry, the Republicans already did that.

    I'm a white male, who's still a NCO in the US Army, by the way.

    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. empty suit

    The more Obama plays the race card while pretending to do otherwise... the more supporters he loses.

    He has been off message his entire campaign... agitating hate in his followers while preaching a soft message of hope, unity and change.

    No one is buying what he is peddling anymore.

    Too bad for Oprah, Caroline, Kerry, Ted, the media and the DNC.

    Your puppet has been exposed.

    June 23, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. Where is Hill?

    The DNC bet on the wrong horse.

    No one likes a race-card playing, hate mongering hypocrit for "change"

    June 23, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. Tired of race card

    If Obama wants to win a general election, he better stop labeling people as racists who do not agree with him and his policies.

    I have been called a racist for months around here because I supported Hillary Clinton. I worked in Bill Clintons campaign in 1992 and met Hillary back then, yet many Obama supporters called me racist because I supported Hillary.

    This is not how you win and influence people. People vote for candidates that they trust and feel comfortable with. Obama had better start working on this or it will be to late and he will have NO one to blame except himself and his supporters.

    June 23, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  12. Pumas aren't Democrats, So Stop Using Our Good Name

    You know its hard to tell. People will SAY race doesn't affect things, but let's be honest it does. When I read some of these blogs and it says "Hussein" and "He's too liberal, too unfamiliar" those are code words for "he's TOO different" If his name was Bob Smith instead of Barack Obama, we might be looking at a different picture. Its not to say EVERY person who doesn't support Obama is a racist, but even those people have to admit that race IS an underlying factor to some people's strong dislike or mistrust of Obama. And yes, the GOP WILL use that as a tactic in some of their ads. Just because the Obama camp points out the fact that yes, race might be used as a wedge and that we all need to pay attention to stop it, it doesn't make it whining. Its just pointing out the truth... like HRC did at the end of her Presidential bid when she said sexism played a factor? Was she whining then?

    June 23, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Sabrina

    So why is Obama mentioning race all the time? He did this in the primary and used it against Hillary, don't think it will work this time,we already know you are black, thats not the problem with you, it's your ethics and how you use your race . against your opponent. I think you will try to divide the country, so you can win at any cost. McClinton 08

    June 23, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. ian

    obama will trump mccain in november! Just wait and see OBAMA WILL TRUMP MCCAIN


    June 23, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. no more race baiting

    When you are nothing but a self-serving sneaky liar who cheats to win... it doesn't matter to anyone what race or color you are.

    I think even African Americans are having second thoughts about this obviously full of himself do nothing pandering politician counting on his color to carry him to the white house.

    June 23, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. A CANUCK

    The most unsophisticate...racist people....are those who haven't travelled out of their own state !!!! You gotta get out more !!!!

    June 23, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
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