AP poll: Racism among white Democrats could cost Obama the election

posted at 4:47 pm on September 20, 2008 by Allahpundit

Depressing, especially since it’s based on a huge sample. The key, of course, is correlation: It’s not whether white Democrats have negative opinions about blacks that matters (for these purposes), it’s the extent to which those opinions influence how they’re voting. What the poll’s trying to do, in essence, is untangle racial prejudice from the knot of hundreds of other considerations that go into one’s choice. Whether that’s possible, particularly via an unusual methodology that attempts to account for unconscious racism — note the details about “affect misattribution” and lists of things people find “upsetting” — I leave to our statistician readers to decide. The gist:

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…

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…

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.

There’s so much data to digest that I’m inclined to treat this as an open thread and let you guys mine the crosstabs in the comments. A few observations, though:

1. We already had a clue about this from the primaries, per the exit polls from Ohio. Fully 20 percent admitted race mattered to their vote; of those, almost 60 percent broke for Her Majesty. That jibes with what the AP found: “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.”

2. Unless I’m missing something, the crosstabs don’t include data by party or, more importantly, data on white Democrats who are voting for Obama versus those who aren’t. For party results, you have to rely on the sidebar graphic that accompanies the article; white Republicans consistently score lower than white Democrats on racial questions, incidentally. The only data I can find on racial attitudes among white Democrats is in the scraps near the end of the interactive at-a-glance feature. There are some amazing gaps between white Dems who support Obama and those who don’t on certain racial questions — 30+ points in a few cases — but it’d be nice to compare their answers on all of them to see if the margins are huge across the board. If they’re not, it undermines the argument that racial attitudes are a significant contributing factor, or at least refines the question to ask which racial attitudes, specifically, are the killers.

3. Not all of the questions used as a gauge of negative racial attitudes unambiguously prove negative racial attitudes. E.g., “Agree or disagree: Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up, blacks should do the same without special favors.” Respondents could be interpreting “special favors” to mean affirmative action, in which case all they’re doing is answering whether they support AA. Is it racist not to do so? The nutroots would say yes, the rest of America wouldn’t.

4. I’ll quote Nate Silver for this one: “A related and unresolved question is how many persons will vote for Barack Obama because he is black. Such behavior would probably be more implicit and harder to ascertain than voting against a candidate because of racial prejudice. For instance, Obama’s biography is significantly more compelling because he is black (actually, bi-racial), and his change message is probably somewhat easier to sell because he looks different than other (e.g. white) politicians. If he were white, in other words, Barack Obama would not be Barack Obama. Moreover, there may be some people who explicitly vote for Obama because they think it will advance a goal of racial equality, present a different face to the world, and so forth. In the absence of sufficient detail on the study’s methodology, it is impossible to know whether these things have been accounted for.”

5. Related to the last point, not that it’s any comfort to Obama or any excuse for those who are voting for prejudiced reasons, per James Joyner there are worse liabilities to have as a candidate than the “wrong” race. Unfortunately, The One may be suffering on that account, too:

6. Finally, what do we make of this Rasmussen poll from last month? Obviously it’s not race per se that’s a dealbreaker or else McCain wouldn’t be getting his ass handed to him there. It’s the stereotypes associated with race, which Powell somehow transcends in ways that Obama evidently doesn’t. Is it his military record? Or his years of experience as SecState?

And with that, I hand the analytical baton to you.


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Comments

Skywise:

I read Clarence Thomas’s memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, and he details the treatment he got from the socalled progressive side of the aisle. It was much the same kind of hatred we see directed at Palin today.

Terrye on September 20, 2008 at 7:52 PM

Sounds like the Democrats have a dark secret within their
own party,and I must admit,talk about bad timing for them!

Notice how well the Liberals try to paint the Right,on this
issue,and yet the Republican Party as I have said before,
are in the 21st century,while it appears some members of the Left,are still stuck,in the muck,of the 50’s and 60’s!

canopfor on September 20, 2008 at 7:58 PM

Chakra Hammer on September 20, 2008 at 7:42 PM

Thanks. I’d seen the 1st article, but not the 2nd graph.

Cindy Munford on September 20, 2008 at 7:52 PM

I voted for Romney on Super Tuesday. I have strong differences with McCain on some things. But since he became the presumptive nominee, I have simply avoided thinking about those differences. I focus on national security & cleaning up DC corruption, on which I am most enthusiastic about McCain. I also focus on Governor Palin, which helps my spirit. I plan to continue this approach until November 5th.

Loxodonta on September 20, 2008 at 8:07 PM

Clarence Thomas’s memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, and he details the treatment he got from the socalled progressive side of the aisle. It was much the same kind of hatred we see directed at Palin today.

Yes, Palin is subjected to harassment that’s similar to racism, interesting thought! Anyone who runs for the 2nd highest office is going to come under scrutiny, especially when they refuse to face the press with the exception of a few interviews. It suggest that she has something to hide, whether it be a specific part of her background or an inability to answer difficult questions.

If she started granting regular interviews, the situation would change. It’s hard to control your message and image when you’re not directly addressing the media.

bayam on September 20, 2008 at 8:47 PM

So, for the question “Agree or disagree: Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up, blacks should do the same without special favors.” I presume you were counted as having a negative attitude towards blacks if you supported special favors for blacks – right?

18-1 on September 20, 2008 at 8:50 PM

The key, of course, is correlation: It’s not whether white Democrats have negative opinions about blacks that matters (for these purposes), it’s the extent to which those opinions influence how they’re voting.

Allah

Yeah, whatevs AP. I couldn’t care less why people vote for or against a given candidate. I have little regard for the intelligence and motives of the American voter, frankly.

So if white Democrats are just as stupid as all the other Democrats, but some factor leads them away from the sickening Democrat ticket and puts McCain/Palin in office – I say great. As in golf, it’s not how, it’s how many.

Would that we had a well informed, responsible, intelligent, and properly attired electorate and that all voters could see things the right way – my way – but this is not one of the choices, apparently.

Also, and this is not a small point to me, Barry O has positioned himself as “the black candidate” for some perceived benefit. If this ends up being his undoing, it’s poetic justice, imo. He sucks and I despise him and I couldn’t possibly care less what color he claims to be this week.

Jaibones on September 20, 2008 at 9:01 PM

Go survey Black Democrats & Independants and I’d bet you’d find a LOT more than 1 in 3 not liking Whites. But that’d just show that Blacks are more “racist” wouldn’t it?

…we know that can’t be the case, otherwise the AP would have a much bigger story to report.

ConwayBob on September 20, 2008 at 9:02 PM

Being a Democrat is not a genetic condition. But it is curable.

The white Dems are being polled because their votes will make a difference, whereas the black Dem vote will not. Don’t fall into the same trap that the Dems have fallen into.

baldilocks on September 20, 2008 at 6:31 PM

money shot

The Race Card on September 20, 2008 at 9:02 PM

AHEM…correction needed pronto! Money quote….

The Race Card on September 20, 2008 at 9:03 PM

Given that I see most of the raw racial prejudice happening on the part of “he’s black, I’m black, I’m voting for him,”
people that without racial prejudice he’d be losing by double digits by now.

{^_^}

herself on September 20, 2008 at 9:10 PM

I fail to see how agreeing with negative adjectives describing a group implies anything about prejudice towards that group. While it is true taht a bigotted person would use the same adjectives, use of those adjectives does not imply prejudice.

I saw this poll on Yahoo and thought the conclusions they reached were among the dumbest possible.

I also wonder why they didn’t poll blacks to see how they scored on the same adjectives about themselves. One would think that a control group would be a nice touch for a poll such as this, especially if one wanted lose all sense of logic and start making wildly stupid accusations of racism because of adjectives.

I read projection by the pollsters, and reporters, more than anything.

progressoverpeace on September 20, 2008 at 9:13 PM

Are blacks any less prejudiced against whites than Republicans are against Democrats?

The Race Card on September 20, 2008 at 5:28 PM

Second thought: I just can’t get excited about the post. I would never vote for or against someone based on their skin color, so it doesn’t even penetrate. And as someone else noted, “prejudice” has nothing to do with the GOP – Dem divide.

I see the issue of racism and blacks in American politics as being nearly the sole province of blacks. I believe blacks, nearly alone, control how this issue will evolve. Whites had their role, but now it’s done.

Jaibones on September 20, 2008 at 9:21 PM

The white Dems are being polled because their votes will make a difference, whereas the black Dem vote will not. Don’t fall into the same trap that the Dems have fallen into.

baldilocks on September 20, 2008 at 6:31 PM

That would make perfect sense, if true. Show me the polls of black Democrats late in the primary race where two Dem candidates with identical positions squared off, and I’ll concede the point.

If memory serves, such polls were all the rage while the support for Obama and Hillary was diverse. When blacks decided that Obama had a chance and he began winning 90%+ of their votes, such analysis seemed to become quite rare, instead focusing on some tiny minority of rural white voters that someone decided would vote for Hillary because she is white.

Jaibones on September 20, 2008 at 9:30 PM

Democrats love minorities: for their votes. Other than that, that’s where the love ends. It’s nice to see that rasicm is alive and well in the Democratic Party.

bryan2369 on September 20, 2008 at 9:33 PM

Wait a minute, how the hell can Obama lose if he’s ahead by 6 according to other threads here?

So should i prepare for Marxism in the USA or not?

Hell, we’ve already traversed socialism in one week. I am waiting for the bread industry to get bailed out due to higher than normal grain prices and for USSR bread lines to form in 2009 once President OBAMA mandates equality amongst us for bread rations.

Obama will win. That’s the line. Abandon all hope……

JP1986UM on September 20, 2008 at 9:42 PM

Looking at the religious poll, I note that if all the people who said Obama was Muslim switched their votes to “I don’t know,” the tallies would look just like McCain’s. To me, that indicates that we have an extra 15% who don’t know anything about Obama but aren’t willing to admit it.

Regarding the #1 point, Ohio wasn’t the only primary, and some primaries had the vote break the other way. I can’t find the specific state I was thinking of, but there was a HA blog post about it.

Math_Mage on September 20, 2008 at 10:10 PM

The white Dems are being polled because their votes will make a difference, whereas the black Dem vote will not. Don’t fall into the same trap that the Dems have fallen into.

baldilocks on September 20, 2008 at 6:31 PM

That would make perfect sense, if true. Show me the polls of black Democrats late in the primary race where two Dem candidates with identical positions squared off, and I’ll concede the point.

Jaibones on September 20, 2008 at 9:30 PM

Not talking about the primary or about the racism of blacks, but about why this poll focused on whites and not blacks. That was the subject to which I was responding. You may be right wrt your subject but it’s a separate topic

baldilocks on September 20, 2008 at 10:17 PM

Statements like:
Blacks are more likely to commit violent crimes.
Blacks are more likely to receive government handouts.
Blacks are more likely to have children out of wedlock.
Blacks are more likely to be in prison.

Imagine!! Whoever agrees with any of those statements must be a stone cold racist!

Charles Martel on September 20, 2008 at 10:44 PM

S&L nails it:

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/ap-some-racist-whites-wont-vote-for-obama

Mr. Wednesday Night on September 21, 2008 at 12:28 AM

Sometimes my own prescience amazes me. It was just a day or two ago that I raised the point of older Democrats who will never vote for a black guy… and given McCain’s moderate record, they will easily vote for him… especially given that the generation I speak of still takes pride in doing their duty and voting. Obviously a vote against him, because he’s black, isn’t the way we’d like to win the race, but given what is at stake, I don’t really care. Hell, we’re talking about Dems here anyway.

On a somewhat related note, it is Obama’s skin color that has gotten him where he is in the first place, so essentially any vote for him is “voting for him because he’s black”. Granted, most blacks seem to openly admit that this is why they support him, and most college kids, etc. are transparent in their racial motivations for voting for him (because it’s just so awesome and progressive).

It may be tough to swallow, but think about it… If B. Hussein Obama was a white guy named Barry O’Donnell, he’d be in politics at all? Give me a break.

RightWinged on September 21, 2008 at 12:29 AM

Clever folks at the AP. They just figured out now why Clinton won the last dozen or so primaries? I thought this was common knowledge.

Vashta.Nerada on September 21, 2008 at 12:39 AM

baldilocks on September 20, 2008 at 10:17 PM

Fair enough, as always. ;)

Jaibones on September 21, 2008 at 12:43 AM

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.

Some whites not voting for Barack because he’s black is racism but the “almost unanimous support from blacks” isn’t racism. What hypocrisy.

Big John on September 21, 2008 at 1:58 AM

S&L nails it:

http://sweetness-light.com/archive/ap-some-racist-whites-wont-vote-for-obama

Mr. Wednesday Night on September 21, 2008 at 12:28 AM

Whoa!!! see who paid for the “push” poll? LMAO

Chakra Hammer on September 21, 2008 at 2:55 AM

Well it IS the home of the KKK after all.

Lonetown on September 21, 2008 at 4:00 AM

This article seems just a huge bunch of hooey.

1- The study was predicated on Obama’s low polling being caused by racism in the first place. So the research was constructed skewed to begin with and tailored to justify the claim of racism rather than seeking a real explanation of why his campaign is underperforming.

2- It assumes that Dems vote, or should vote, 100% as a block regardless of caampaing issues.

3- And Obama’s high standing is due most largely to his race in the first place. Compared to many of the other Dem candidates, he has no other particular qualities or experience to recommend him for President.

flicker on September 21, 2008 at 10:10 AM

As a troll over on Snuffington Post, I’m constantly being accused of racism because I’m voting for McCain. It’s like I try to explain to the socialists: I’m voting for McCain because I would never vote for a Marxist Socialist Communist, it has nothing to do with skin color. I’m hoping Sarah Palin chooses Michael Steele to run with her in 2012. He’s not exactly an albino, and I dig the guy’s politics. Imagine a vote for issues instead of identity politics.

adamsmith on September 21, 2008 at 10:46 AM

adamsmith on September 21, 2008 at 10:46 AM

I don’t read their stuff unless it is posted here but I must say that I am glad they “embrace” you. I’d ask if they treat you like we treat Alphie but I assume you at least make sense and the arguments are substantive.

Cindy Munford on September 21, 2008 at 10:57 AM

pueblo1032 on September 21, 2008 at 12:46 PM

I’m astonished that your post made it past the filter.

Connie on September 21, 2008 at 1:41 PM

John McCain is Navy
B. Hussain Obama is 1/3 Black liberation, 1/3 Muslim, and 1/3 Marxist

TheSitRep on September 21, 2008 at 2:11 PM

I’m astonished that your post made it past the filter.

Connie on September 21, 2008 at 1:41 PM

must not have lasted long… I don’t see it…

Kaptain Amerika on September 21, 2008 at 3:16 PM

I don’t know about the rest of the folks here who are commenting. I haven’t read them all and I don’t intend to. Everyone has an opinion and they think it’s right. I am fuming over this latest admonishment from the media. I resent being called a racist if I choose not to vote for an unqualified candidate. I wouldn’t vote for any candidate I felt didn’t have my interests in mind no matter what his or her ethnicity, religion…

SayWhat on September 21, 2008 at 3:57 PM

I don’t see what is depressing about this statistic at all.
We have been accused of racism in every single election since Nixon 68. Anybody remember Wilie Horton, the culture war speech. Nothing new here.

So now the AP had proved that many democrats are Racist. If that is the case and democrats are the smartest people on earth why did they elect a black man and potentially blow the election?. Not very smart considering they have been saying the USA is the most racist country on earth.
Were they trying to win the election or just make a point?

kangjie on September 21, 2008 at 3:58 PM

Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama

By RON FOURNIER and TREVOR TOMPSON
Sept. 20, 2008

WASHINGTON — 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” or 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.

Is that anything like Obama’s opinion that white folks are greedy, murderous, apathetic and callous to suffering of minorities?

Or how about this bit of bigotry and racism:
“And it’s not surprising then they (white people) get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

“Antipathy to people who aren’t like them.” That pretty well sums up Obama’s attitude toward working class whites. I don’t wonder some of them might feel antipathy toward him.

docweasel on September 21, 2008 at 4:41 PM