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.