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. Typical White Person

    Translation: a person with "high racial sensitivity" is someone who is over sensitive about race. Which sounds like the majority of Obamaniacs that post here...

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

    Keep voting against your interests and towards your fears, White people.

    $10 gas, recession and war in Iran is sure to follow...but we all know race, immigration and sexual orientation is whats important!

    June 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Belle2

    Obama's complexion is not the problem; his problem is that he has no experience, no record on which he can be judged, he changes his mind so often he does not appear to believe anything-not Muslim, not Christian until 20 years ago then attended anti-American church, then denounced by degree (as it was politically expedient) that church and pastor-and he offers no real solutions. He is the one who keeps trying to bring race into the campaign. "Code" words: isn't that what he said about the Clintons. If he works this as well as he did in the primary, McCain (and his supporters) will not be able to open their mouths without being accused of being racist. Obama is the racist, not his opponents.

    June 23, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. S. Boatman Warrensburg Mo.

    Obama Is Going To Be The Next President And This Article Proves It!

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  5. Carolyn

    I time for CHANGE.....

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. tracey hubbard

    Race has nothing to do with Obama being BLACK, is a smart man period. The question should be will McCain continue to take care of white people as every other president has. Black people just want to be treated fairly and get some of the benefits that others have had for years on years, something at the expense of BLACK people as well as any person of color.

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. Will in Richmond, VA

    Obviously race/culture matters to somebody. It matters to me, if only for the fact that we have to smash through all these 'firsts' so that we can finally get to real substance. First African-American. First woman. First Hispanic. First Asian-American. First Muslim-American. First Homosexual. First Vulcan .... wait.... what?

    Race has never stopped me for voting for a white candidate, by the way.

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. Colorblind

    Sen. Obama is not fit to occupy the White House.
    Not racist. Just fact.

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Chelsea Clint

    Why is it that people who dont support Obama never speak against his wanting to end the war and move America torwards a more ecologically smart future.

    Maybe his RACE is playing a bigger issue than his opposition thinks...

    We are a country FULL of bigots! No wonder the world hates us!

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Ian

    Incompetency? Get out of here. You have no idea what you're talking about. Obama is ready to be President and he is GOING to be President.

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. Fellow Americans

    Come on now people are you really telling me that we could not get any more incompetent than BUSH???? LOL I'll take my chances with OBAMA this year for sure!!!

    Oh yeah to the People of the Great State of Ohio! It takes you guys 8 years and miles of FOOD LINES to realize that you were voting for the wrong party! Help yourselves this time around, vote for people who care that you can't feed your families!!!

    OBAMA 08

    June 23, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  12. Under 50 / Over 50

    1.) Whatever level of influence race plays, it will be understated in polls. People don't like to admit they are racists.

    2.) The cure for racism in America is desegregation because it leads people to live together, get to know that each race is just like the other. Some are brilliant ... some are not...

    3.) Those under 50 have one set of experiences and viewpoints; those over 50 are likely to have a higher level of bias in their thoughts.

    Team Obama – you can out think and out execute your competition. Beat them with your intellect.

    This off shore drilling debate is a perfect example .... there is no way that is a soution to our near term energy problems ... Smart Americans will see this ... keep hammerin'.

    June 23, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. K

    He and his camp are the only ones who keep bringing up race. Stoking the race fire fuels anger on all sides and keeps the spotlight off him and his sketchy past, inexperience, and questionable policies.
    I doubt very seriously I fall into the "high racial sensitvity" category...what is that, BTW? But, JC Watts, Michael Steele, Colin Powell, Codi Rice...I would vote for you in a heartbeat! Barack Obama...no way, no where, no how! There's something not right with this guy and sometimes I think I'm the only one who feels it!

    June 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  14. SD

    raciest is so old, sometimes I wonder whats after racism?

    June 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. gurarro

    Why does CNN continue to report such garbage? What exactly does "31 percent think Obama would “do too much” for African-Americans if he is elected president" mean?. What percentage of the electorate think that the president "would do too much" for big corporations, or big oil, or big airlines or big agriculture, big anything? The 31% in that poll are the same nuts that voted Bush into office twice. CNN, get a life!!!!

    June 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Seth in Jacksonville, FL

    Whites will throw an excuse in the book at pollsters to conceal their REAL racial prejudice. I am white and I see it every day...they can say it's "inexperience" if they want, but I know the truth. I find it sad that so many of my peers in the South just can't accept the idea of a black man as President.

    Besides, what "experience" do you want? Corrupt political experience that is rife in the politicians who've been in Washington their whole lives? Come on, people. Elect someone NEW to the scene who can change our country for the better.

    The choice is easy and clear – Obama.

    June 23, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. pee-d-feet cause something stinks, indy

    'Conservetism', another name for 'racist!' -Before you cry foul, are they not the one's who would love to keep things the 'same' from around the 1800's and prior.

    We've known this racial issue will come-up as it did in the Dem's primaries. The real treat has been watching 'good white folk' squirm when we point it out EVERYTIME. So, no *itchin' as you probe to see how far you can go and WE point it out.

    OBAMA '08

    June 23, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Joel-Minnesota

    neither McCain or Obama seem quilified to be president, however it would be a shame to endure four more years of the american people being sold out at every turn because of race. 5 million jobs lost. 1 million home in foreclosure. four thousand troops dead. I could go on and on. WAKE UP AMERICA STOP THE MADNESS!!!!!

    June 23, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  19. JDUB

    While I disagree with the above statement about Obama's incompetency. I must say and I think most will agree, that it will be an 10 fold upgrade compared to what we got in there now. Can I get an Amen?

    June 23, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |

    this is the most unreal poll i've ever seen. i try not to pay attention to polls but when a large group of people ( nearly 18 million to be exact) will not vote for a candidate that has the same views as the person he was running against in the primaries.. thats not a racial thing?!?!?. People have the tendency to be nice and cover things up.. we will see how race effects American citizens once he is elected president

    June 23, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. curtis

    MARK FROM Mn, The united states has elected several incom petent presidents In its illustrious history. How many of them have been considerd white men. lol

    June 23, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. Bobby

    incompetents vote for Obama I think not most college educated people and youth college students have voted for Obama in every state we respect a well educated Harvard candidate unlike mcbush
    Obama politics are what we need to change the course of our country we cant keep voting in more of the same

    June 23, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Uncle Sam

    You can't compare this year to 76 and 92.

    In 76, white people made up a much larger percentage of the population.

    In 92, Ross Perot took 19 percent of the overall vote, many of whom were white. Bill Clinton only won with 43 percent that year.

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  24. Mendemoi

    Its not the race of the person, but the actions of the individual. In Obama's case, its not because he is black, but because he chose to be a member of what is dubbed the BLACK LIBERATION THEOLOGY CHURCH, and he attended it for 20 years listening to Pastor Wright's vitriolic American and White hatred. Are we suppose to say his judgement does not matter because we will be talking about blackness/ NO! Should we believe that he never believed in anything Pastor Wright was preaching? NO!
    Add up all the other relationships, speeches and other actions Obama has had in life and see if it qualifies him for the claim he is making that he is a UNITER.

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  25. Jaime

    When was the last time a white president did anything for the African american community? Except for LBJ.

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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