Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pass the Smelling Salts: A Racial Divide Exists in the USA

Despite the incessant post-racial discourse of the last year, a recent poll by the New York Times suggests that a strong racial divide persists concerning social and political issues. For example, Obama's approval rating among blacks is 80%, while it is 49% among whites. 21% of whites have an unfavorable view of Obama; the unfavorable number among blacks is too tiny to measure. The Washington Examiner has more analysis and details.

A few comments
First, these numbers are somewhat misleading because they do not control for party affiliation. Most blacks are Democrats, and Obama's support among Democrats who are not black is very strong as well. Some liberal bloggers are using this fact to ridicule the Washington Examiner article, but this criticism does not change that fact that on many important social and political issues, a true racial divide exists. A similar pattern exists with gender as well.

Second, blacks are typically very cynical about politics and politicians, but Obama has certainly changed that. I am concerned, however, that blacks seem unwilling to accept a nuanced view of Obama. Any criticism seems to result in a smackdown (ask Tavis Smiley). I passionately believe that "approving" everything a president does will not advance racial justice, even if the president is black. Apparently, people have not learned to distinguish race from political ideology. While the two concepts are related, they are not the same.

3 comments:

Hershblogger said...

You need to get out a little:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124102148212069089.html

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Um, you consider reading the Wall Street Journal "getting out"? Okaaay.....

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Hutchinson: Okay, forget the WSJ. Try this divide:

a) in the 2008 election, California voters went for The One by about 61-37 (this is from CNN.com)b) at the same time California voters approved Proposition 8, the state constitional measure defining marriage as between a man and a woman, no gays need apply passed by about 52-48.

It's obvious that a substantial fraction of Obama voters also went for Proposition 8. If they hadn't, it would have failed. This is remarkable. I certainly didn't expect it. To be sure, The One says that he thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman, but no one takes that too seriously. That's just to keep the clingy voters in red states from erupting.

That aside, I'd be interested in your thoughts on how CA voters could have voted for these two ideas.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

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