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. Helene

    Obama is by far the best candidate and I don't care if he is black or white or green. At least he doesn't need a Jiminy Cricket-Lieberman to whisper in his ears and correct him when he confuses the issues like McSame.

    June 23, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  2. Ken

    I believe that it is Obama who is bringing up the issue about race. In his most recent speech, he told the people that it will be the Republican party who will use race to scare voters not to vote for Obama, NOT McCain.

    I am sure that there are black Americans that are voting ONLY because of Obama being black, and for no other reason.

    Obama would be better off if he would put Clinton on the ticket and use her supporters to beat McCain in November and be our next President. Otherwise, McCain WILL win in November.

    June 23, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  3. TEXAN

    This "race thing" is getting out of hand !! Come on...this is 2008. It is a sad that some Americans can not get past this. We need to remember that we are ALL Americans and vote for what is BEST for our country.

    June 23, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. ron canada

    during the nomination race the majority of black voters many who admitted that they were pressured to vote for obama because he was black moved away from Clinton, regardless of the fact that bill Clinton had done more for African Americans than most presidents before him going as far as calling him the first black president.so your question is redundant . the majority of black voters will not vote for Mccain strictly because he is white and will vote for obama because he is black qualifications does not matter.

    June 23, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. Dan

    well, the racism issue still exists in our democratic society though we think its already gone. The media has to promote the fact that Obama is biracial, he is half black half white! It is not right to call him black when half of him is white's.

    June 23, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Michelle

    Just look at the comments posted to many of the articles on this site, check your e-mail and do a quick google search. We hear accusations of "incompetence" from people who cannot name a single thing Obama has done – competently or incompetently. Accusations that he is "Middle Eastern" from people who don't appear to know where the Middle East is located, and to "just look at Africa" to know what an Obama presidency would turn the U.S. into. T-shirts, buttons and other products portraying Obama as a monkey have been sold in many places, including sanctioned GOP events. Race has nothing to do with it? Please!

    June 23, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. Cynthia

    Bill Schneider's analysis of the exiting polling numbers of the primaries and the actual number of votes Senator Obama received did not match so let's see if it is different this time around.

    June 23, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Too bad they didn't poll blacks. There's no way Obama got 90% of the black vote in the primaries without race being a factor.

    June 23, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. Anon

    Obviously, race does have something to do with it, if someone where to ask the McCain supporters, or just the people who are against Obama, what Obama stands for 90% of you know nothing about what he stands for, and for the other 2% Hillary supporters who are just sore at the fact she did not win the primary, must remember, a vote against Obama is also a vote against Hillary...Obama and Clinton share many more views than McCain and Clinton ever will.

    June 23, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. RyanD.

    MArge – "It is effected by incompetency and obama has a heck of a lot of it….But then we see by the record the incompetents who support him."

    Sorry, Marge, you're talking about McCain right?

    Bush netted us 3 trillion in debt, an illegal war and a broken nation. You surely aren't talking about Obama.

    June 23, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Greg. PA

    I don't see a black man in this race. I see an inexperienced bleeding heart liberal who if elected will destroy the very basics on which this country was founded.

    June 23, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. rumpusgoopus

    Well, let's see. We have a President with historical approval ratings. We have a very shaky economy. We have a terrible war in Iraq. All of which happened with Republicans in power. And now, now that we have an African-American running as the Democratic nominee, and he's still ONLY getting what Kerry and Gore got, CNN says the candidacy is not effected by the racial divide? Yet again, we see an incredibly inept analysis by the media.

    June 23, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. Chad, Wisco

    Are you kidding me??? When 80-90% of all blacks vote for Obama and then you say its not about race is ridiculous. This country is more divided than it has been since the 60-70s.

    June 23, 2008 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. Keven Bennett

    I'm really surprised.

    A few years ago, I would have never thought this possible, but out of the haze of a constant barrage of intolerant hatred from the right, the mature American voter appears!

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. moh germany

    Mike ,i disaggreed with you.you are quite informed about Mccain he cant do something better to the usa where not try something different something we never know.why alsways the same way.(one way street)

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. benvictor

    The race card is for losers, and John McCain is not on the losing side. When John's opponent fails to get a bounce after getting the nomination, that is bad news and it does his camp all sorts of things, like flip flopping on public campaign funds. Then Biden announces he would accept VP to bring his national security experience and plug the void on that issue. How many others are needed to plug the voids in all the other issue areas? And, what happens if these plugs fail? Worse, who is really in charge and accountable with all of these plugs?

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Independent LAWYER for Obama

    Interesting. As a white female, it is pretty sad that a third of white people think that black people don't experience discrimination – especially when they are probably the same ones that discriminate! You really have to have your head in the sand to think that black people aren't discriminated against in this country...

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Blah

    Speaking of incompetence, you should've used the word "affected". Good job there showing up all those incompetent supporters!

    K Thnx

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Angelo in Nashville

    As an African American male myself, this poll just goes to show how important CNN's Being Black in American series will be when it airs in a few months. It doesn't matter how "polished" African Americans become, how much schooling African Americans receive, how much money African American's have, and overall how African Americans acclimate to the societal "virtues" of this nation, most white Americans see blacks as simply not good enough and thus feel entitled to the American ideals that come with being a US citizen - like the US presidency.

    I won't be voting for Barack simply because he's black, but I hope that he won't be treated unfairly this November simply because he is.

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. Down with Obama

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

    LOL, not good odds there!! I beleive that Obama and his thugs are dividing the country more. Saying they are going to riot in the streets if Obama doesn't win...doesn't sound like a uniter to me.

    June 23, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. 58 old white ladies for OBAMA

    SO THE NEWS OF THE DAY IS THAT REPUBLICANS

    ARE MORE LIKELY TO BE BIGOTS BY 12 POINTS.

    AND WE ARE CERTAIN BILL SCHNEIDER WILL

    NOT STATE THAT EVALUATION, SO WE DID.

    WE ESPECIALLY LIKE THOSE THAT EXPRESSED THE

    VIEW THAT OBAMA WOULD DO TOO MUCH FOR THE BLACK

    AMERICAN CITIZENS. WE ARE CERTAIN THESE ARE THE

    BUSH CHRISTIANS, NOT THE JESUS CHRISTIANS.

    June 23, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Nia

    John McCain is incompetent and support by those with racist attitudes. If Mccain was something other than a white male, he would not be in the race.

    June 23, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Grandma

    John McCain and his campaign will play any 'card' he can play to try to win the Presidency. Look for all kinds of attacks on Barack and Michelle Obama in the coming months!

    God help us all if John McCain wins!

    June 23, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. New York Nate

    I'm always amazed at how little CNN is willing to distribute. I realize the average American (and possibly the average CNN.com reader) isn't qualified to look at and analyze a poll on their own. None the less, this snap shot analysis of the data and misleading title doesn't do reality any justice nor does it substantively inform well educated people.

    At the very least you should provide a link to the poll that the article rambles about. How is a well informed reader supposed to believe the conclusions of the poll if they neither see the questions nor the sum total of responses?

    June 23, 2008 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. moh germany

    Mike ,i disaggreed with you.you are quite informed about Mccain he cant do something better to the usa where not try something different something we never know.why alsways the same way.(one way street)

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