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

Poll: Obama's candidacy not affected by racial divide


[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/05/art.obamamc.gi.jpg caption=""]
(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. Sick of Obamania

    I have never been exposed to as much racist talk then that the Obama Camp keeps bringing up. They keep playing the race card over and over again and the only racists remarks i hear are ones related to whites.

    get over it, you are doing nothing but dividing the nation

    June 23, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  2. Kenneth M


    June 23, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  3. Jason, Texas

    West Virginia is the exception.

    June 23, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  4. MD

    Obama will keep race front and center. Watch for the continual "victim" card coming from Obama. You will also begin to see that any disagreement with his "positions" will explained as racist or race-baiting.

    Obama is a better dressed Al Sharpton. Both share the same political philosophy. And both are morons.

    June 23, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  5. Mike in NYC

    Most human beings are “racist,” in the sense of wanting to put their own people first. Only whites are made to feel guilty for this.

    If he gets in, maybe BO should start an international crusade against racism, to be received by thunderous peals of laughter across the globe.

    June 23, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. Rachel

    Hmm do you think this will make Obama shut up saying they will tell you not to vote for me cause i am black ?

    June 23, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  7. Surprised

    Interesting that the Repubs so consistently seem to win the white vote in america...no wonder the prospects of a demographical shift in our country (i.e. via the immigration issue) have repubs and conservatives going nuts. You folks should relax anyways....america will be a mixed race culture majority within the next 20-25 years anyways, the evidence is all around you and it is the future. Obama is the greatest symbol of that future!!

    June 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Crush Rush

    Obama will "WIN"by1st round KO,just like the Ali vs Liston fight.McCain will stay on the stool a long time.

    June 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. carlos

    Race is not the issue, McBush's lousy platform is...

    June 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  10. joe in VA

    RAce will have nothing to do with it? I disagree. If 90% of black americans support BHO, how can anyone say there isn't racial bias!

    Race bias cuts both ways. Why did CNN choose to focus on bias AGAINST BHO? How about some reporting about racial bias FOR BHO?

    June 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  11. Billy Sutton, Springfield, MO

    Can someone please explain what this 31% of white voters are talking about.... Obama will "do too much" for African Americans. So whats the difference in the 40+ white presidents we have had, and why is it that it will be different for a black president. I really don't understand issues like this.

    June 23, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  12. Wake Up

    You white people make me laugh. It's politically correct for you to say that the race was stolen from Hillary or that Senator Obama is experienced or that HE is pulling the race card or that a white man, one of your own, one Father Pfleger, told the truth on all of you. However, let the year be 1908 instead of 2008 and the world would have known your truths. It's too bad none of you can be honest with yourselves.

    June 23, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  13. Enlightened Voter -

    Hey Marge Hibbing Mn- Even the most die hard repug and die hard clinton supporters had to admit that Obama has run his campaign brilliantly including the financial end of it. Incompetent does not apply to Obama's campaign but I guess you repugs have to grasp at something in your desperation. Or are you a bitter hrc supporter who can't face reality. Now there was an incompetently run campaign...

    June 23, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. Can we move past Obama's race

    There are just too many important things at stake and the candidate’s race is not one of them. Some people will not vote for Obama because he is black, oh well. I doubt that is the majority of people voting and since they probably clueless I doubt they vote at all.

    Stop bringing it up because talking about this waste time talking about issues that matter.

    June 23, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Thomas

    Obama's black??? – It has nothing to do with race unless Obama tells you all it is...

    June 23, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Vote Nader

    Sen. Obama looks like Carl from "Slingblade" in that picture.


    ** Nader/Gonzalez 2008 **

    June 23, 2008 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  17. Michelle

    The issue of race is NOT front and center.

    Obama is the only one who brings it up. He plays the race card to
    ward off vetting and deserved criticism.

    June 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  18. Eric in New Mexico

    "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."

    Racism and prejudice are alive and well in OUR United States of America. Hope is never accepted by those with hardened hearts.

    June 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  19. No More Clintons, CA

    Hillary Clinton must be a LIAR! She claimed that hard-working, white American will not vote for Obama.

    Bill Clinton is another LIAR too! He suggested that blacks winning in primaries were insignificant!

    PA state governor is another LIAR! He said white voters won't vote for black!

    I am glad that majority American people are actually smarter and better than those slimmy politicians!

    June 23, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  20. ted

    I think except for fringe elements on both sides race is not the issue it once was. that said, it will be a worse issue for Obama if more Rev wright stuff comes out or this Smoking Crack in a limo thing turns out to be true. I guess what I am saying is while race is not at the forefront of Americas decision making it is still an underlying issue. Its in submisission but not dead

    If the candidates and their constituents keep it a non issue we should go out of our way to ensure race doesnt play a part in this election. We'll look better on the world stage for it.

    June 23, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  21. JIM...TX

    Marge Marge Marge...such BITTERNESS! calling your Queens opponent supporters incompetent is laughable. Who has more educated, young, upward mobile supporters? Certainly not HRC...who by all accounts appeals to lower income, less educated( college or not) somewhat biased folks. Who has supporters who put their money behind their candidate an who can't pay HER bills. You folks should realize Hillary LOST..not had it stolen...the nomination. As for jumping ship since she didn't win...rats always leave a sinking ship sooner or later:)

    June 23, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  22. Roger

    I think that Obama is racist. All he does is bring up race.

    June 23, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Robert

    The only one that seems to be concerned about race is the media, it gives them something to write about. The average voter could care less about race, we are more concerned with the issues, which the media seems to care less about.

    June 23, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  24. ted

    OH BTW CNN can you stop using that terrible "did someone put sauerkraut in my coke? it sure tastes sour" Obama picture. I realize he's about the least photogenic guy on the planet but there are better shots.

    June 23, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Gerry

    Obama is transending race. His policies will have voters flocking to him in November.

    June 23, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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