Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama vs. White Backlash

Racial Prejudice: The most sophisticated political poll on racial bias indicates Barack Obama could lose the presidency if the race is close because of negative images whites harbor against blacks. The AP/Yahoo poll conducted by Stanford University researchers found one third of white Democrats considered blacks lazy, violent or irresponsible. Ever since Obama won the Iowa caucuses, political observers speculated how deep-rooted white prejudice would effect his chances of winning the Democratic nomination and bid for President of the United States. Now they have empirical data to weigh. The study showed 40% of all white voters expressed some negativity towards blacks although Obama transcends some of that on his own merits. The third of white Democrats and all independents who expressed even modest negativity are the key to winning the election, the researchers determined. The poll attempted to determine why Obama has failed to enjoy a wider lead against his challenger John McCain at a time the Republicans and the Bush administration ratings are in disapproval. Seven in 10 Democrats say they support Obama while 85% Republicans favor McCain.

Survey Methodology: Previous studies on polling were flawed because respondents were reluctant to express their opinions over the telephone to strangers. The Stanford researchers initiated telephone contacts with voters and compiled a representative sample of 2,500 who agreed to participate in the survey by email on the premise their responses by computer were less invasive. The survey provided pictures of blacks and offered a series of negative and positive adjectives to describe their feelings. Among the findings: 20% of all white voters described blacks as "violent," 22% "boastful," 29% "complaining," 13% "lazy" and 11% "irresponsible." On the flip side, 45% of the respondents expressing positive sentiments towards blacks said the candidate's skin color made no difference to them. The data indicates Obama would have a 6% higher polling favor over McCain if racial prejudices were removed from the equation. Racial implications not withstanding, a third of the Democrats said they were unlikely to vote for Obama because of his lack of experience and doubts he can change the way politics are done in Washington. Of those Democrats who harbored even mild negatives towards blacks, 58% said they still would vote for Obama. The vast majority of Republicans said they would never vote for any Democrat.

Real Politics: So, there you have it. We now have a pretty good sampling how the race factor plays in this unprecedented election. It tells us Obama enters the election with a 6% handicap. But there are a full plate of goodies running in his favor to overcome that deficit. He enjoys a nearly 90% approval of blacks and voters under 30. Democrats hold a 3-2 margin over Republicans in party registration. The sick economy usually favors the party out of power. The list goes on and on. But this thought festers: Will the redneck vote prevail? For America's well being, let's hope not.

1 comment:

Bjornremmers said...

Sad, but useful information, especially in a culture where many whites think racism is non-existent. Generalizations and stereotypes always cause damage. The good news is that Obama has a real ability to make people see past skin color. By being half white, half black himself, I think he is in a unique position to help bridge racial barriers in this country. His 45 minute speech on Race was an indication of his intention to do so, anyway, should he be given the chance.