Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Few white voters upset about Obama victory despite lingering racism, study finds

Date:
September 13, 2010
Source:
University of Florida
Summary:
Racism may be less of a factor in politics than other realms of life, according to a new study, which found few white voters in Florida to be upset by the presidential candidacy of a black man, and many to be proud of it.

Racism may be less of a factor in politics than other realms of life, according to a new University of Florida study, which found few white voters in Florida to be upset by the presidential candidacy of a black man, and many to be proud of it.

To assess attitudes among white voters in a southern state about Barack Obama's historic election to the presidency, two UF political scientists analyzed results from four statewide telephone surveys -- each involving between 449 and 829 respondents -- conducted in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009. Their study was published in the August issue of the electronic journal The Forum.

"We didn't see a lot of evidence that race was paramount in the way people thought about Obama," said Michael Martinez, a UF political science professor who did the study with UF political scientist Stephen Craig. "In fact, quite a number of white Floridians -- both those who are Republicans and those who are Democrats -- took pride in a black man being able to secure the nomination and win the election."

They estimated that two-thirds of white non-Hispanic Floridians surveyed -- 65 percent -- were "proud or inspired" by a black candidate's ability to win his party's nomination for president. While that sentiment was nearly universal among those who preferred Obama -- 89 percent -- it was also shared by a substantial number of McCain supporters, 47 percent.

"I was surprised by the magnitude of the pride factor and that it extended into the McCain camp at a time when there were plenty of hard feelings on both sides," Craig said.

Despite these positive feelings, the study found that racism persists. An estimated one-third of the respondents -- 34 percent -- were upset by "blacks pushing themselves where they are not wanted," a statement used in the survey to assess racist sentiment.

"There are still racists out there, but they appear not to be applying those attitudes to a political campaign in which one candidate happens to be an African-American," Craig said. "It could be that for many of these people race is more important when it comes to who their daughter is dating or which family is moving next door to them than it is in a political context."

Part of the reason that race did not emerge as a major issue in the election may stem from Obama's biracial background and his efforts not to call attention to his blackness, Martinez said.

"During the campaign Obama went out of his way to try to overcome any anticipated problems with racially conservative white voters by noting that his mother was white and he was raised a good portion of his life by white grandparents," Martinez said. "It was no accident that he emphasized Midwestern values as a way to connect with white America."

Perhaps more important than Obama's image is the growing partisan nature of American politics and tendency for voters to see the last presidential election as a referendum on the Bush administration, illustrated by the Obama campaign's twin mantras of "change" and "no third term," he said.

"Many people judge political candidates by the state of the economy," Martinez said. "In 2008 this country's economic situation was not doing well prior to September and it was doing terribly afterwards, which really handicapped McCain going into the November election."

Measuring prejudice can be tricky because people are often reluctant to reveal socially undesirable responses, Craig said. The researchers got around this by using a technique designed to ask about racial attitudes indirectly, he said.

In each survey, participants were divided into different groups. In the first survey, for example, one group was asked to state how many of four statements, such as "the way gasoline prices keep going up" upset them -- but without revealing which ones. Another group responded to the same statements as well as one additional one: "a black candidate running for president."

Any difference in the average number of upset-generating statements given by the two groups was then attributed to the additional item about a black candidate, Craig said.

In two of the other surveys, respondents were asked to respond to the same four statements. In one, the additional statement was whether they were upset by "a black man being elected president," and in the other if they were upset by "blacks pushing themselves where they are not wanted."

One survey also asked respondents whether a different set of four statements, such as "American athletes participating in the Olympics" made them proud or inspired. The additional statement some respondents received was "the fact that a black candidate is able to win his party's nomination for president."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida. The original article was written by Cathy Keen. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael D Martinez, Stephen C. Craig. Race and 2008 Presidential Politics in Florida: A List Experiment. The Forum, 2010; 8 (2) DOI: 10.2202/1540-8884.1316

Cite This Page:

University of Florida. "Few white voters upset about Obama victory despite lingering racism, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100913121703.htm>.
University of Florida. (2010, September 13). Few white voters upset about Obama victory despite lingering racism, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100913121703.htm
University of Florida. "Few white voters upset about Obama victory despite lingering racism, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100913121703.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

What Self-Made Women Need to Know Financially Before Getting Hitched

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) Halle Berry was recently ordered to pay her ex-boyfriend Gabriel Aubry $16,000 a month in child support by a California judge for their daughter Nahla. As women make strides in the workforce, they are increasingly left holding the bag when relationships end regardless of marital status. 'What Monied Women Need to Know Before Getting Married or Cohabitating' discusses information such as debt incurred during the marriage is both spouse's responsibility at divorce, whether after ten years of marriage spouses are entitled to half of everything and why property acquired within the marriage is fair game without a pre-nup. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Clock Ticks Down on Internet Speed Debate

Reuters - US Online Video (July 18, 2014) The FCC received more than 800,000 comments on whether and how internet speeds should be regulated, even crashing its system. Lily Jamali reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins