Saturday, September 20, 2008

Poll-Racism Is A Major Factor Keeping Obama From Winning Big

TransGriot Note: One of my commenters disagreed with my observation in a recent post that some racist whites could possibly deny Obama the shot at the White House he deserved as the more qualified person to run this country.

Well here's the evidence to back up what I stated and already know - 10-15% of the white electorate will not vote for an African-American no matter how qualified they are because of racist assumptions about African-Americans they still hold.

And that 10-15% figure is the folks who admitted it.

One of the reasons many African-American Democrats are still pissed at Hillary is that she and her campaign team introduced the race baiting themes and lines of attack on Obama in the primary that John McCain is using right now.

We African-Americans will do our part to help get Obama elected. It's on you progressive whites to convert the holdouts in YOUR neighborhoods to vote for the most qualified man we've had in a generation for this office.

One of the things you can tell those holdouts who fear revenge from an Obama administration for all the negative things done to us over the last 200 plus years by white politicians, is that unlike the Sarah Palins and Republicans of the world, Black politicians, especially first African-Americans to hold a position previously dominated by whites are far more concerned with doing the job correctly and competently.

African-Americans don't have the luxury of using a political position to gain personal revenge on peeps they don't like. We're more concerned with creating a positive leadership impression and tearing down stereotypes. We know that if we don't do a bang up job the first time, there won't be a second or third Black elected to that office.

Poll: Racial Views Steer Some White Dems Away From Obama

Associated Press Writers

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.

"There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots," said Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman who helped analyze the exhaustive survey.

The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush's unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

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.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

On the other side of the racial question, the Illinois Democrat is drawing almost unanimous support from blacks, the poll shows, though that probably wouldn't be enough to counter the negative effect of some whites' views.

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.

Still, the effects of whites' racial views are apparent in the polling.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

But in an election without precedent, it's hard to know if such models take into account all the possible factors at play.

The AP-Yahoo News poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.

Other techniques used in the poll included recording people's responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks' troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.

"We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.

Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks "intelligent" or "smart," more than one third latched on the adjective "complaining" and 24 percent said blacks were "violent."

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they "try harder."

The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.

Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people's votes — including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's backers.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton's white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries — particularly whites with high school education or less — were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.


Associated Press writers Nancy Benac, Julie Carr Smyth, Philip Elliot, Julie Pace and Sonya Ross contributed to this story.


Dale said...

How could anyone even answer that poll? Its very premise seems rooted in stereotyping. "How well does each of these words describe most blacks?"
How can anyone generalize in such a fashion? If instead of blacks you asked about most whites, or most schoolteachers or most homosexuals the question would be equally unanswerable.

Monica Roberts said...

The fact that people felt comfortable enough to truthfully answer those questions should give you food for thought.

Nichole said...

This poll merely shows some of what is pretty obvious when whites talk to whites. It would be comical if Eddie Murphy had done this on SNL thirty years ago. O, that's right, he did.

I suspect that Dems who claim they don't "trust his competence" don't trust his competence due to his skin-color. That is not surprising at all to this white girl.

It's something whites I have known in the South, West and Northeast (all places I have lived) have all done with a regularity that leaves not much to imagination. Competence, if questioned even by the likes of Sarah Palin and John McCain translates into a "reason" that isn't allegedly racial to not for Obama. The sub-text? Because he is black.

Dale, I'm glad people answered that poll. This is the dirtiest of all the white dirty-secrets out there and the Pubs know it and are using it. Just as Bill and Hillary knew and used it.

The fact that white folk are horrified that some large number of whites owned it is also telling. My guess would be that another 15% of the respondents felt it and refused to own it. That would put about the entire 30% of Dems not voting for Obama at the absolute right level: 70% for, 30% against.

Thanks Monica for yet another excellent amd salient pointing out of an aspect of "our" society that not really much of anyone who is white wishes to own.

Lisa Harney said...

I think the poll - which includes more than Dale seems to think - sounds like it pretty thoroughly gives room for people to not stereotype.

I know that people get really defensive about the bias test that flashes faces and concepts at you, but it's actually pretty thoroughly tested and fairly accurate.

And it's not like producing surveys is itself some kind of mystical art. The process of making one tends to eliminate random factors and encouraged bias, leaving room for people to just answer the question.

Tim Wise talks about this too.

Anonymous T said...

i work in a polling center.

The things i've been witness to can't really be vented until we are close to the election.

Needless to say, it would blow your mind. Not only do i have very little belief left in us as a nation, i have some bad days on the phone where i almost wonder if we should just be wiped out to start over.

Dale said...

Holy crud. Well I messed up. I reacted to a tree when I should have seen the forest.

The poll results are appalling. They sicken me and make me worry for this country. How have we survived this long?

Thank you, Monica, for drawing our attention to the poll. I need to spend more time discussing it with others.