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. It's a done deal

    Obama will be our next president, because he has the majority support of the American people, and will continue to do so with an ever increasing margin. It's pretty straight forward.

    June 23, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Michael Lortn, Virginia

    Obama is "black," and he knows it; America knows it; find something else to stir in the political kettle....To many hands in the pot spoils the soup....like why does McCain look like Popye and Liberman look like Wimpy?.....it is a start..... if you going to stir, spread the icing uniformly.

    June 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. Debby

    I personally feel if Colin Powell were the nominee this poll would swing Powell's way. Obama is just to far left for alot of peoples liking.

    June 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. therealist

    It is more than obvious that the true racial divide is within the black community. No matter which way the progressive media trys to spin it..

    June 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  5. David

    Actually, the only one that ever brings race in the picture is the Obama campaign. The comments and playing commericials in Tennessee where he is surrounded by white people don't really do a lot for his "not playing the race card image". I was very enthusiastic about this election but now would rather it end. I notice we don't seem to be talking about "nasty" campaigns and "throwing the kitchen sink" at each other now that it applies to Obama. Obama is making statements everyday about everything McCain says or does. He doesn't even check facts just blurts out nonsense and that is alright. I have been a democrat my whole life. I will not be voting that way in this election. Obama will bring change, just not the positive change everyone expects.

    June 23, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  6. Chris From New Jersey

    Marge from Mn is part of the same idiots that voted for Bush because they felt he was "competant" to run the country. Do you still feel the same? Anyway, race of course is an issue and will be for a long time in this country, if it were not (an issue) than we would not be having this disscussion. I do feel we have made great strides in equality for all but still much remains to be accomplished. Do you honestly think places like West Virginia well ignore race this November? I am optomistic that one day we will live up to the constitution that all are created equal!

    June 23, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. Roger

    123456789

    It is true that the democrats are a laughing stock this time around.

    I am ashamed of our party.

    I will be voting for McCain. Your welcome.

    June 23, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Bayou Joe

    If you believe that, I have some prime water front property in Arizona to sell you.

    Obama's campaign has been buoyed by Race since the beginning.
    The media won't touch him because of fear of being called racist.
    The McCain campaign won't openly challenge him on his attendance at a Racist Church.
    The Liberals want to elect him to show the world that we can elect a Black man., without any qualifications other than Race.

    The young people are enamored with making history even though Barak is not a Genuine American Black with the Black American experience.

    The Democratic party is controlled by Radicals and Racists.

    June 23, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Bridgette-PA

    Why are we talking about race again? Good grief, the man is Black and White or White and Black. Let it go. Everyone needs to stop wondering which "side" he'll favor! Don't you think he's had enough of this crap growing up?! Did anyone read his books? Just stop it. He's not perfect, but he will be our next PRESIDENT. If you don't like him because of the color of his skin, then don't vote for him. If you won't vote for him because you fear he will favor one side of his race over the other, then don't vote for him. I'm sick of it. People need to grow up. Can you imagine how this makes OBAMA feel? The media needs to stop discussing this crap because it keeps race in the forefront when America's issues should be. I see why whites and blacks aren't always proud of their country......this is just ridiculous.

    OBAMA / SEBELIUS -08!

    June 23, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. mcCain 08

    Would someone please tell Hillary and her supporters to go away. We don"t need them to win this election.

    June 23, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. It's a done deal

    Ryan, who cares what those in the minority do. Your in the minoroty, which means your opinion changes nothing. Too bad. Thanks for sharing your frustration with the rest of us voting for Obama.

    June 23, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Mike in NYC

    Surprised wrote:

    "You folks should relax anyways….america will be a mixed race culture majority within the next 20-25 years anyways...."

    That’s certainly not something I'm going to "relax" about.

    "...or that a white man, one Father Pfleger, told the truth on all of you."

    What's the white equivalent of an "Uncle Tom"? That man (and I’m being generous calling him one), clearly hates his own people.

    FLORIDA Voter for Obama wrote:

    "WHY DO WE KEEP BRINGING UP HIS RACE?? I THINK AMERICANS ARE OVER IT NOW."

    Someone else whose illusions will soon be shattered.

    June 23, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Emma

    If I accepted the premise that the color of the president decides who gets favorable treatment, then all of the white presidents we have had then must favor all white people. How stupid an analogy.

    Why do you think Obama would do more for African Americans? There is a congress that is involved and that congress is majority white. To all you people who think African Americans would get preferential treatment, please come up with another excuse for not voting for an African American.

    If I thought white people would be favored by a white president, then I would have never voted in any presidential election.

    Get real America!

    June 23, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. liz

    I think when the time comes to vote, people will make their choice for whatever reason THEY choose, whether it be race, trust or pride and you know what? No one will get to discount their vote for that reason, because we are Americans and that is almost the only right we have left. The choices we have ended up with are not that great and sad to think these are the best America has to offer.

    June 23, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. his race is the BEST part of the man

    When you run as a new type of politician for hope unity and change....
    and then you resort to all the dirty, sleazy, underhanded, back-stabbing tactics that Obama has... you foul your own image.

    Playing the race card also alienated many early supporters of all races and ethnicities. Another Obama hypocrisy that cast him as a false person.

    Betraying Wright to gain votes didn't help either. It proved that he lacked conviction and principles and would do whatever is necessary to win.

    Finally cheating to steal the nomination from the other candidate really did not help his image or advance his message.

    So... race... not a factor.

    Everything els... yep... a big factor

    June 23, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. mCBUSH

    mccains needs to stop with his stupid plans and start making real plans for Americans. Obama 08!!!

    June 23, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  17. Indie

    Why is the media continue to prop up MccSemear. He is like Inspector Gagget pretending to know what he is doing but in reality, he is as dumb as rum. There is no substance to his continious state of confusion. Such as great pretender .

    June 23, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. k.t

    How soon do we forget john mcain couldnt even get half way thur an primary with bush how does any with an half of a brain thinks he sane enogh to run the country . He doesnt even run his household She make all the money anyway !!!!

    June 23, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  19. ls

    A person who carries racism could only be considered a bad seed, nothing more, nothing less – just a bad rotten seed.

    Then there is the "domino effect" that falls afterwards, and stupidity is usually the next to follow.

    The End.

    June 23, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Mr. Schneider, are you in denial? LIke so many others I know.

    You've got to be kidding me if you believe that racism will not have an affect on this election. Most prominent black politicians will be quick to tell you that they must discount 20% of their electorate because of racism. Meaning they must concentrate on the remaining 80% and win an overwhelming majority of those votes.

    June 23, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. he is pretending race matters

    Obama has consistently run counter to his own campaign message. He created an image of himself to sell to the people... and then has behaved WORSE than the typical politician.

    When you run as a new type of politician for hope unity and change….
    and then you resort to all the dirty, sleazy, underhanded, back-stabbing tactics that Obama has… you foul your own image.

    Playing the race card also alienated many early supporters of all races and ethnicities. Another Obama hypocrisy that cast him as a false person.

    Betraying Wright to gain votes didn't help either. It proved that he lacked conviction and principles and would do whatever is necessary to win.

    Finally cheating to steal the nomination from the other candidate really did not help his image or advance his message.

    So… race… not a factor.

    Everything els… yep… a big factor

    June 23, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  22. Liz

    My view won't make it but WAKE UP made it 5 times....I resent the insinuation that if you don't vote for Obama then you are a racist! Maybe, his flip flopping has something to do with it

    June 23, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. jim

    My family always voted Democrat, but will not vote for Obama not because of color because EXPERIENCE counts. McCain 08 H. Clinton 12

    June 23, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  24. Connie, MT

    The kids are right, there's no place in the election for racial politics. The bible say "and a child shall lead them". The kids know more than we do–open up the presidential pool to qualified candidates. That means blacks, women, hispancis, asians, native americans, etc. It means everybody. This is America, this is America.

    While we've been bickering among ourselves, the kids have been living Dr. King's dream. They've been studying together, playing together, growing together and we can learn from them.

    June 23, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  25. Mathew

    People. If you dont like to vote for Barack Obama, please just vote for John McCain. McCain will bring troops back . Yea. That is true. But He is beating the same war drum against Iran, which is 10 times more powerful than Iraq militarily and other resources. So that he can send your kids to fight against Iran, into the middle eastern deserts.

    June 23, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
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