AP: Racists Could Cost Obama Election

A bizarre AP-YahooNews poll finds that racism could be the difference in the election.

Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them “lazy,” “violent,” responsible for their own troubles.

The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He’s an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation’s oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can’t win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.

As I’ve noted for months, the media have constructed a meme that, if Obama loses, it’s because he’s black.

Look, there’s no doubt that there are people who simply won’t vote for a black man to be president.  But polling on general attitudes doesn’t tell us much about specific behaviors.

Regular readers will recall a poll in February 2007 showing that Americans were more likely to vote for a black president than a Mormon, an atheist, or a 72-year-old.  94 percent of those surveyed would vote for a black man, whereas only 5 percent would not.  Conversely, a mere 57 percent would vote for a 72-year-old and a whopping 42 percent wouldn’t.

But, as it turns out, the contest will not be between a generic black man and a random 72-year-old.  Instead, it will be between two specific people who will be judged almost entirely as individuals.

Yes, Obama will lose some votes because of racism.  Yes, McCain will lose some votes because of concerns about his age.  In a truly close election, that could amount to the difference.  But saying that they therefore lost “because” of that one factor — when dozens of factors were more important in deciding the election — is absurd.

And, indeed, if one keeps reading, we find:

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.  Three in 10 of those Democrats who don’t trust Obama’s change-making credentials say they plan to vote for McCain.

That’s Obama-specific.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2008, Public Opinion Polls, Race and Politics, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. It would seem as though there are more people who are going to vote for Obama just because he is black, and not just black people, than are going to vote against him because he is black if we are going to have a discussion couched in these terms. The fringe is not the majority.

    A lot of bridges have been built to close the gaps in race relations in this country during my lifetime. Who is it that now seems willing to start burning these bridges for partisan advantage? This is despicable behavior.

  2. rodney dill says:

    Race will be a factor both directions, some will vote for Obama just because he is black.

    What I find most bizarre about the poll is the extremes of the White Democrats.

  3. Patrick T McGuire says:

    Although I am not going to vote for Obama, I almost hope he wins just so we can get past all this racist BS. Put him in office, let him be a colossal failure, and then let’s get back to running this nation as it should be run.

  4. Bill H says:

    Polls are, I think, often questionable. If I were asked to take this poll I would take one look at it and hand it back, responding with something to the effect that “You can no more generally rate blacks than you can whites or greens or purples. Screw you and the horse you rode in on.”

    But there’s no question on there for “people who describe blacks as essentially white people with a dark tan.” By definition, the only people who answered the poll are racist, so we still don’t know what part of this nation is still racist.

  5. Bithead says:

    Think, folks… We’re talking about the Democrat party… the party of post-racialism. How can they have so many racists as to affect the outcome of this election? The fact is, they don’t.

    The media and the left (but I repeat myself) has been pushing this meme of ‘the reason Obama’s losing is because of racism’ for some months now, except until now the charge has been focused on independents and Republicans. Now, they’re willing to blame Democrats. Why the change?

    Simple… the leftists see Obama struggling, where if all the Democrats were behind him, no such struggle would occur, based on overall party numbers. Add about half the independents and there’d be an Obama rout. They can’t fathom that Obama would be defeated on issues, or his competency, so they hunt around and find one that matches with their long chanted mantra of ‘racism’. So desperate are they to attach this meme to Obama’s impending loss that they’re willing to tar their fellow leftists with the title of ‘racist’.

    If nothing else, it’s an attempt at swaying voters with guilt.

  6. Anderson says:

    Uneasily and with trepidation, I find myself agreeing (in part) with Bitsy.

    JJ: Look, there’s no doubt that there are people who simply won’t vote for a black man to be president.

    Right. But most of those people are Republican already, or DINOs (like RINOs, but on their way to extinction?).

  7. McGehee says:

    Although I am not going to vote for Obama, I almost hope he wins just so we can get past all this racist BS. Put him in office, let him be a colossal failure, and then let’s get back to running this nation as it should be run.

    Patrick, you can’t seriously believe that Obama’s failure would “get past all this racist BS.”

    It would be like presenting a 9/11 Truther with incontrovertible evidence supporting the “official” explanation of why the towers fell. With exactly the same chance of success in changing his mind.

  8. Pug says:

    Anybody besides me notice this AP article was written by Ron Fournier, the reporter and almost McCain staffer.

    Obama isn’t talking about race because it is to his disadvantage and he knows it. If race becomes an “issue” it benefits McCain and he knows it. So does Ron Fournier who is a disgrace to journalism.

  9. just me says:

    Obama talks about race all the time. It is just subtle.

    He or his surrogates talk about the racist republicans, they bring up how he doesn’t look like other candidates and how the GOP will attack him for this.

    Funny thing is McCain hasn’t really said anything.

    He does have to be careful of racism charges-mostly because if he cries racism at every attack ad, then he ends up looking like a whiner and nobody wants a whiner in office. Oh and I am pretty sure telling working class white people they are racists isn’t going to do much to get them to come over to his side.

  10. tom p says:

    Wow, how many times have I had this conversation… Look guys, race affects everything in this country. to discount its affects is …Blind? Stupid?

    The other day I listened to an NPR interveiw with a 60 yr old retired Sherrifs deputy who actually had the gall to say, “I have never received any benefit because I am white.”

    I was stunned. I am 50 yrs old and I KNOW I have gotten at least 2 jobs because I am white and kept several others for the same reason.(not to mention all the others I never would have had a chance at if I had been black) I have been a union carpenter for 20 yrs and have worked with exactly 2 black carpenters. What world does he live in? It ain’t the same world I do (I am from St. Louis, he was from PA)(not that big a difference). I was born in ’58. Grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. Went thru race riots (small ones) and everything. Had to go to work to make a living, no college (not trying to start any class warfare here) and had to compete for every dime I got…. and some of those dimes I got because I was a little whiter than the guy behind me.

    And I knew it. That somebody who grew up in the same times as I, who can say “Race had nothing to do with it…”

    I am dumbfounded at their stupidity/blindness.

    While I agree with JJ that race may not have as much to do with the results of this election as some people think, I have one simple question…

    How many of you have stood in line with 50 to 60 black people and yet YOU are the one that comes out with the job? You really think you are that much more qualified? You really think there were no blacks there applying for the same job as you because they had the same oppurtunities as you? Race still matters, whether you want to admit it or not. Don’t believe me? Walk onto a union job wearing an Obama sticker. I have. You ain’t got the balls.

    ps: what I wonder about are the people who say:

    “More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.”

    Of course he can’t… but McCain can? At least Obama is a start….

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    He does have to be careful of racism charges-mostly because if he cries racism at every attack ad, then he ends up looking like a whiner and nobody wants a whiner in office. Oh and I am pretty sure telling working class white people they are racists isn’t going to do much to get them to come over to his side.

    he already said we were stupid for being
    Christians and hunters and patriots and I remember something about his own grandma being a typical racist of sum type, dudes a communist millionaire who made his money under Bush the guy he is running against but go figure he’s the donkey nominee, lol if he gets elected I’m going back to drinking drugging and whoring like I did through the Clinton years to block it all out.

  12. Floyd says:

    The only demographic in which race is clearly an issue in this election is among blacks, who some polls say support Obama to around the 96 percentile. This is far higher than ideology alone could lift him.
    To virtually all the rest of us, it is a battle of ideologies. The cry of racism against Obama is both false and politically motivated.
    Does anyone feel guilty for not voting for Keyes??……I didn’t think so!

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

    Does anyone feel guilty for not voting for Keyes??……I didn’t think so!

    I do, he is a great man, and mostly every thing good about this country, but I dint think my vote would count, so I punked out on my convictions.

  14. Bithead says:

    Right. But most of those people are Republican already, or DINOs (like RINOs, but on their way to extinction?).

    Actually, Anderson, I’m sure that idea gives great comfort to some, but the fact it’s that it’s just not true. We read further in the article and find:

    Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren’t voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

  15. Bithead says:

    Oh… and Anderson?

    Uneasily and with trepidation, I find myself agreeing (in part) with Bitsy.

    (Good natured Chuckle)
    Welcome to the church of the painful truth.

  16. Bithead says:

    I do, he is a great man

    Well, he WAS, anyway.
    Something, and damned if I know what, has happened to him and his thought processes the last decade or so. He had my support back in the day.

    So much these days of what he comes up with is nonsensical, I can’t help but think he’s either lost a retaining screw, or perhaps a kinder read would be he’s trying to hard to placate too many groups at once.

  17. Floyd says:

    Bithead an G.A. Phillips;
    I voted for him twice, but I was not refering to regret, I was refering to what the liberals experience as “white guilt”…
    a fear of their own latent racism.

  18. Bithead says:

    There certainly is that, Floyd, and just as certain is the idea that Obama has tried, with varied success to leverage that guilt into votes. Truth to tell it’s one of the things I find most annoying about him.

  19. Floyd says:

    Bithead;
    If you hear Keyes speak, you will see that he has not changed so much as he has caught the attention of the propagandist left who control most of the media and have no compunction about prevarication.
    Example… The attempted character assassination of Palin with no thought of journalistic ethics.

  20. Bithead says:

    If you hear Keyes speak, you will see that he has not changed so much as he has caught the attention of the propagandist left who control most of the media and have no compunction about prevarication.
    Example… The attempted character assassination of Palin with no thought of journalistic ethics.

    Sorry, Floyd… I have heard him speak. And if you’ve read anything of what I’ve written here over the years the place has been up, or anything from my own place, you’d know better than to assume I’ve allowed what you call the ‘propagandist left’ left influence me in much of anything at all.

  21. tom p says:

    he already said we were stupid for being
    Christians and hunters and patriots

    He never said anything of the sort (he is a christain and a patriot, as far as hunters he as always said he respects us)(when it comes to “clinging to guns”…. Boys, come on down to the Ozarks, they definitely do…”He’s gonna take our guns, he’s gonna take our guns..”)(“they” have been trying to take our guns for over 60 years, they haven’t yet, give me a break)…

    I remember something about his own grandma being a typical racist of sum type,

    What he said was even his own grandmother had racist tendencies…

    dudes a communist millionaire…

    isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

    who made his money

    Yeah… by earning it… something most conservatives find laudable.

    under Bush the guy he is running against

    uhhhh… no… he is running against McCain, who earned his money the old fashioned way… he married it.

    lol if he gets elected I’m going back to drinking drugging and whoring like I did through the Clinton years to block it all out.

    GA: I suggest you start right now, you are probably a whole lot more coherent when you do. Oh, wait a minute, you probably already have.

    The only demographic in which race is clearly an issue in this election is among blacks, who some polls say support Obama to around the 96 percentile.

    Floyd: You are absolutely correct. But that does not mean race is not an issue among whites. It is. They are just at better at hiding…

    what the liberals experience as “white guilt”…
    a fear of their own latent racism.

    and so are Republicans…

    Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren’t voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president — white, black or brown.

    How many black (or brown) Republicans are now serving in Congress? I do not recall ever hearing the name of one(maybe I missed 1 or 2?).

    As far as Alan Keyes… If he is so great, why isn’t he in the Senate today? The GOP took control of Congress in 1994, 12 years ago, during which time they were sitting on top of the world for at least 10 years and the RNC threw money at election after election, and yet he still sits on the sidelines. Why? Maybe because they never threw money at any of his elections? I would like to know how much money he got from the RNC.

    “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

    Luke, 6-41.

  22. Floyd says:

    tom p;
    I, for one, harbor no guilt related to racism.
    As for how many non-whites serve in government as Republicans… That is a concern only for racists, since we all agree that a man should be judged by the content of his character and not by the color of his skin.
    As for Keyes, he ran for Senate as a last minute fill-in for Ryan, to prevent Obama from running unopposed,after Ryan’s character assassination. Also, he ran in the Peoples Republic of ILLINOIS, where Lincoln couldn’t get elected today, but some of his contemporaries still vote![lol]

  23. DL says:

    Did I read that last paragraph right? It says 1/4 of all Democrats will vote against him and then says 1/3 of that 1/4 will do that. Which is it?

  24. rodney dill says:

    Seems to me the White Democrats knew the answers that were expected of them.

  25. G.A.Phillips says:

    he is a Christan and a patriot, as far as hunters he as always said he respects us)

    lol, sure he is and does.

    What he said was even his own grandmother had racist tendencies…

    like I was saying….

    isn’t that a contradiction in terms?

    ya thats the point, your not very quick are you.

    Yeah… by earning it… something most conservatives find laudable.

    Dang they brain washed you good.

    uhhhh… no… he is running against McCain, who earned his money the old fashioned way… he married it.

    have you been watching the campaign?

    GA: I suggest you start right now, you are probably a whole lot more coherent when you do. Oh, wait a minute, you probably already have.

    That was a joke, well the whoring part any hoo, but poop you got me interested in sampling what ever they got you on, hook a brother up!

    “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

    Luke, 6-41.

    And why do liberals always selectively misquote books they don’t believe in or understand like the Bible and the Constitution?

  26. G.A.Phillips says:

    Bithead an G.A. Phillips;
    I voted for him twice, but I was not refering to regret, I was refering to what the liberals experience as “white guilt”…
    a fear of their own latent racism.

    Ya I know I was attempting to give them a lesson in honesty and show my admiration for the ambassador a very exceptional American leader, not that understand or care about such things but I try.

  27. Bithead says:

    Look, GA, as I say, I supported him back in the day. At the time I thought him good and possibly exceptional. Indeed, some of my earliest comments on Obama… dating from 2004, are linked to Keyes, interestingly.

    And BTW… note this passage from the story I link in that post:

    Obama, the son of a Kenyan mmigrant father and a Kansan, was heralded by media during the convention as a centrist, but he has been given perfect 100 scores by liberal groups such as the Planned Parenthood Council, the Illinois Environmental Council, the National Association of Social Workers and Citizen Action Illinois.

    Gee, a real centrist, that. And this stuff was known four years ago.

  28. G.A.Phillips says:

    Bit,I have always respected your opinions, common sense, and understanding of situations, plus I have not heard the Ambassador speak for a while.

  29. Floyd says:

    Who said Obama’s father is an immigrant?

  30. Bithead says:

    GA;

    Sorry if I implied otherwise, it wasn’t my intent.I intended reinforcement of my position, naught else.

    Floyd… Follow the link for your answers.

  31. tom p says:

    G.A: Dang! Ya got me… I like you better already… You’re an idiot, but goldurnit yur my kind of idiot!

    Unfortunately I am working 6/10s this week and have neither the time nor the coherence to respond properly. Maybe next subject..

    And why do liberals always selectively misquote books they don’t believe in or understand like the Bible and the Constitution?

    As to the bible… you may have me there (I am hardly a student) but when it comes to the constitution I have read and studied it many times, and I come back to one section repeatedly and I have to wonder about anyone who mixes the two…. Article XI, para 3:

    but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    I look forward to sparring with you at a later date. Right now I need to eat, go to bed, and get up in the morning and go to work.