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. Obama Plays Race Card Again

    How come the articles dealing with polls like this always talk about the percentages of whites who think its a big deal but never talk about the percentage of blacks who do when every poll on the planet indicates that Obama is getting 99.9% of the black vote (oh, and by the way, Obama also has a national get out the vote campaign targeted for blacks... but its not about race, right?).

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. Michael, Torrance, CA

    Obama, please, please don't start crying race at every turn. All’s fair during the campaign. When McCain starts running negative ads about you as you will about him, don't pull out the race card! People will get very tired of hearing it. I know because I'm already tired of hearing it.

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  3. Kim

    Wow! So only 2 out of 10 Americans are not considered somewhat racist and I'm supposed to believe Race isn't a factor in peoples voting decisions. Sure.

    Whats even sadder is 30% of Americans polled admitted to some prejudice. I'd be curious to see the amount of people who won't admit to their own ignorances / prejudices.

    If there is one thing that has been prevalant this election cycle – it is how much prejudice still exists, and even more scary than that is that people think it's okay to behave and think that way. It's sick really, wake up people it's 2008.

    June 23, 2008 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  4. Elloitt

    Obama will loose without Hillary Clinton

    June 23, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  5. Dominick Migos

    There we go again ! The media start again bit by bit with those nasty plitics games to distract the public and move the whole nation away from the dream we've been waiting for. Every body knows well that some racial fillings still in some American people from all races (Black,white, hispanic...) But the American people in general have proved clearly that race fillngs are not gonna distract them on this special occasion to pick the person whose gonna bring change we all desperately need in America.

    June 23, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  6. FLORIDA Voter for Obama



    June 23, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  7. Enlightened Voter -

    Repub bloggers, you can blog until the repugs care about average americans (which we know won't ever happen) and your strategy of flooding the blogs won't work because people are no longer dumb. You guys have ruined our country and we're not about to let mcwar in to totally destroy it!

    June 23, 2008 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. David Goldman for OBAMA





    June 23, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Patrick Henry

    Those who disagree with Obama's Presidency are sensitive to race as an issue–but are perhaps more realistic about the expectations of an Obama Presidency.

    Beyond the historical implications–which are significant. His ideology, mandate for personal sacrifice for the common good (not clear who or how much yet), and his clearly socialist and EU views provide enough to support any of his naysayers. Race isn't an issue. His agenda is the issue.

    June 23, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  10. Ehiwario, from Germany

    Race or no race, Obama will be the next President of America. The world can not wait to see him take up that role.

    June 23, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  11. Peggy - Tx

    He could be purple with green poka-dots and still win in November because of his inspirational speeches of a vision for a better America; his ability to connect with vast numbers of ordinary Americans that makes us believe he understand our problems; his consistent track record of achievements; and, most importantly, because of his sincerity that makes me believe that he would never lie to me about something as important as why America should go to war.

    June 23, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  12. Adam

    Shut up about race already. I don't care if Obama is purple, what it comes down to is he's just a better candidate than McCain. Period.

    June 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  13. Lisa

    This African American is writing Hillary's name on the ballot.

    June 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  14. ana

    what s race got to do with it.money is green it is time for a change

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

    He's going to win the race card all right. The race to the White House.

    June 23, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. It's a done deal

    Consider this. Repugs claim, if we had started drilling in Alaska during the Clinton years we could have that oil now and we would be so much better off. Truth, peak production would be 800,000 barrels a day. We are consuming 1,000,000 a day less now than last year, and the Saudis are delivering another 700, 000 barrels a day, because of all the supply-siders putting pressure on them. So now we have 1.7 million barrels a day we didn't have last year, an amount equivelent to 2 times the peak production promised to be had in the wildlife preserve in Alaske. We should see the price of oil plummett any day now that we have all this oil. NOT! Fools! At todays prices 1.7 million barrels equals a 1/4 of a billion dollars a day in sales – estimated impact, if oil companies don't just raise the price to offset the drop, is about 8 cents per gallon. Do you think this is about the 8 cents or the 1/4 billion a day?

    June 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. proud army and navy mom

    Anybody who votes for Mcbush, needs to be made to serve a tour in Iraq. They know that he is a warmonger, and should pay the price.

    June 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |

    To Marge Hibbing MN: This is what you wrote

    "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."

    The words in your comment does not say anything about race and is worded very well. However, if we look in deeper and put in perspective all the things happening in this race, your comment is very divisive and racial in nature.

    Majority of blacks support Barack and for you to suggest that those who support him are incompetent shows how incompetent your decisions are. It is people like you who make it difficult for this nation to march forward leaving race behind. Those people who come right out and say racially divisive statements and support them are easier to deal with because we know them. It is people like you who are hypocrites that are a wall to this nation from marching forward. You hide and portray yourselves as non-divisive and neutral when the truth could not have been any farther.

    June 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. Rosa Birmingham, AL

    Good, Maybe the Republicans won't try to use it like they did against Harold Ford in Tennesee during the 2006 campaigns. I kind of doubt it though, it will work in some states.

    June 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  20. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    John McCain knows that being 71 years old is against him but I'm sure he also believes his chances of winning are better because he is a white man. Americans will vote and as proof that race doesn't matter but one being 71 years old is a factor simply because the Government and many other companies don't hire 71 year old people, in fact they are incouraged to retire. John McCain is already getting social security benefits as part of his aged retirement package. Vote Obama before we miss out on what our country needs to move forward.

    June 23, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  21. Casey

    That Americans (even 30%) are racist isn't surprising. I bet that number is higher, as most bigots are the first to claim their innocence. Kind of like those closet gay Republicans. It's a "don't ask, don't tell" mentality... where they use their "wide stance" verbage to mask the reality of the positions on anything.

    But the times, they are a changing...

    54 yr. old white woman voting for Obama

    June 23, 2008 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |

    When Obama LIES he cleverly recasts it as an unselfish change of mind for the greater good. Even though one can clearly see how he is advancing himself.

    When someone else shifts their position based on the current situation and new evidence that has arisen- like HRC on NAFTA or McCain on drilling.... OBAMA calls it flip-flopping and demonizes his opponent.

    It is okay to have your position evolve with the times... It is not okay to LIE like Obama continually does. And the media plays along with his spin and hype.

    June 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  23. Chris from NY

    Thank God for those who have reached epiphany on race relations in this country as we pray for the conviction of those who are still dragging their feet.

    June 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  24. Catty

    Trying to get a dem to believe I'm NOT voting for Obama and it's Not based on race is like teaching a pig to sing!

    Has anyone realized the ONLY race issue is what his campaign and supporters are putting out there?! NO REPUBLICAN HAS MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT RACE!! Apparently republicans are mre concerned with issues, while the dems can't get over race.

    June 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  25. D. McMillan

    Despite what people are saying, race will always play a factor in this election. This combination of candidates has never existed and from all the racist comments I've read in the last several months, it's really a shame that it has to come down to race. America – land of the brave and home of the free with a little racism mixed in!! Obama will be held to a higher standard, he will be judged harsher, he will not be allowed to error in any way!! There will be no forgiveness EVER if he should happen to stumble. It's a shame but that's how it will be. Doesn't matter that all those before him were of another race and fell way short of perfection, he'll have to rise above all of them and it still won't be good enough. But you see, this isn't anything new, this is what black people deal with every day. Nothing will ever change on this side of HEAVEN!! You can say it with your lips but until it comes from the HEART, the CHANGE we so hope for will never be!!

    June 23, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
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