Poll: how much of the vote would Obama win if he were white?

If you read Wufnik’s secession piece yesterday, you may have noticed that the inevitable cropped up in the comments: racism. You can’t talk about secessionist impulses anywhere – Scotland, Belgium, Spain, Quebec – without the subject of the US intruding, and that tends to mean the South. As in, the South in which I grew up (as did some of my fellow scrogues).

As Wufnik notes, there are all kinds of reasons why a group of people might want out of the nation they’re in, whether it’s language or historical culture or religion or resources or economics or whatever. But in the US South, it’s about one issue and one issue only: racism. If you want to argue that racism is not rampant in the South, either you’re trolling or you’re willfully self-deluding because you hate facing the bald facts or maybe you’re just not bright enough to be in a conversation with educated people.

No, racism doesn’t exist only in the South. No, not everyone who votes for Mitt Romney does so because they’re racist. And no, not all Southerners are racists. But the phenomenon is unarguably more ubiquitous there, especially once you get beyond the boundaries of larger cities. It doesn’t really matter, though: if you’re paying attention, you can’t help noticing a powerful correlation between racism and the relative redness of the electorate in a given state, can you?

Wufnik allows that if Obama wins re-election the right is going to pitch a full-on nukular galloping hissy fit (as opposed to the more reasoned, respectful, collaborative approach we’ve seen since 2008). (Despite the fact that some polls are calling it neck and neck, I do expect the president to pull it out. I’m not a hardcore quant demographer, but Nate Silver’s analysis seems coherent enough, and he’s saying it’s about a 73% chance of an Obama win). He’s probably right. I’m having a hard time imagining how much worse the racist right can get without actually donning white hoods and burning a cross on the White House lawn, but we’ll see, won’t we?

In any event, this all got me to thinking about a basic question. Consider the GOP approach, from their positively Byzantine assault on women to their willingness to openly lie about anything and everything to their reactionary theocratic rhetoric to … well, you’ve been watching, so you’ve heard the same barking asshaberdashery that the rest of us have. In a remotely sane world – that is, one in which candidates and ideas were intelligently evaluated on their merits alone – this batshit brigade couldn’t pull more than 15% of the popular vote if they were running uncontested. And yet, here they are, poised to score nearly half the popular vote for president and probably maintain control of the House. Why is that, I wonder?

So here’s the question: what would the polls look like if Barack Obama were white. (100% white, I mean.)

Instead of letting that hang there like a rhetorical question, let’s actually do a poll.

Feel free to add comments, if you like.

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21 thoughts on “Poll: how much of the vote would Obama win if he were white?”

  1. Some political blogger–I wish I could remember who it was–once pointed out that in any discussion of voting in the US these days, you have to start out with an assumption–27% of the voting public is completely nuts. That’s your base there. Where does this number come from? It’s the percentage of the vote received by Alan Keyes when he ran for the Senate against Obama in Illinois. Now, there’s nothing particularly racial bout this group–Keyes is black, as is Obama. But they’re clearly nuts–why else vote for someone who is an obvious fruitcake? This percentage might be higher now, depending on how much of the tea party brigade you include–although, admittedly, it’s may be the case that a substantial portion of the tea partiers were already included in that 27%.

    So one quarter of the electorate is nuts, but not necessary racist. So the question then becomes this–Romney is currently running at around 47%. How much of that 20% difference (above and beyond the 27%) is voting purely on racism? Well, some certainly. I would do it this way. McCain got 45.7% in a straight match-up. But that’s only a 1.5% difference, and, frankly, the racist vote went to McCain anyway. I think the better analogy would be Clinton–America’s first black president, as Toni Morrison noted. Clinton’s elections were complicated by having Ross Perot in both races–but still, he won both handily. In 1992, he beat Bush by 5.6%–but Perot got 18% of the vote. In 1996, he beat Dole by 8.5%. I’m guessing that that’s the benchmark–despite the Republicans taking over Congress in 1994, Clinton personally remained very popular–much as Obama is. Right now I’m guessing Obama will win by about 3%-4% of the popular vote. The difference between that winning percentage and Clinton’s 1996 winning percentage is what Obama is losing because of race. How’s that sound?

  2. In the last Gallup poll I saw ( a couple weeks ago), Romney led Obama by 22 points among non-Hispanic white voters. There seems to be a very large racial component at work here. This should surprise no one. The Republican party is full of racist, anti-women, anti-science knuckleheads that would be very hard to find in the Democratic Party.

  3. I think if Obama were fully white instead of just half-white, he would lose worse than he is going to already.

    It is lazy and ignorant to smear the southern USA as racist. First, the Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln and freed the slaves. The Democratic Party is the party of slavery, the KKK, Jim Crown, and segregation. If you attempt to insinuate that party history is less important than geography, then you might find migration trends over the years interesting. From 1975 to 2007, the southern states lost 13 million people who migrated from their states to other regions. However, during that same time period, they saw an influx from the other regions to the tune of 19.7 million people. In addition, since 1950, the population of the United States has more than doubled, increasing by over 150 million people. Claims that geography holds some residual power over one’s stance on race is ridiculous.

      1. I’m disturbed by people who are this willfully ignorant of history. Education needs to be job #1. Everybody knows that the GOP cloned The Reagan from fossilized black hair dye in 2134 and sent his righteousness back in time aboard the Nekro-super-megalon Tardis so that he could legitimately rape the virgin, Mary. The offspring from that holy union, forever known to the Believers as American Kung Fu Action Jesus, smited the Romans and laid waste to all infidels with the power of his Mothra glare for nearly 2,000 years. Then, in 1973, he formed the rock super group Kiss and embarked on an intergalactic conquest to slay Pagan zombies that had infiltrated most of the Federation quadrant. Live long and fester.

  4. It is rare I can find a liberal who can actually engage in a conversation to discuss differing viewpoints. Often, they would rather retreat behind a condescending phrase on their way back to their like-minded support group.

    1. 1. Democrats passed the Civil Rights act 1964.
      2. The Republican party started winning elections in the South.
      Post hoc, ergo propter hoc–or a huge coincidence

      1. Jestbill… thank you for the opportunity to educate. Or are you just a straw man I cobbled up?

        If I were a Democrat, I would want to ignore all preceding civil rights legislation preceding the ’64 bill also. So, we’ll just concentrate on that one, but with a little context. The Civil Rights Act (CRA) of ’57 passed by Eisenhower (R) and Republicans and voted against by JFK called for a Commission on Civil Rights to help pave the way for additional civil rights legislation.

        JFK’s Justice Department did write the original version of the ’64 CRA in ’63, but it was stalled in the Democrat controlled Senate. Everett McKinley Dirksen (R), the minority leader in the Senate, rewrote the entire bill so it could get through the Democrat controlled Senate. That means that every final CRA passed between the Civil War and ’64 was written by a Republican.

        The ’64 CRA was passed with 82% Republican support against 37% Democrat opposition. This marked the most Democrat support to that point in time for any civil rights legislation in US history.

        As for elections in the south… one, I already addressed the changing demographics through normal migration patterns and population changes. But, in addition to that, Republicans had been making inroads in the south prior to ’64, or the later “Southern strategy myth” of Nixon. The south was trending Republican for years, just as America was trending towards freedom and equality for years and dragging the Democratic Party with it. In ’52, President Dwight Eisenhower (R) won three southern states, and won two more to bring the total to 5 in 1956. In ’56, Eisenhower won the popular vote in the souther states and narrowly missed winning a sixth state, North Carolina. Winning NC would have meant Eisenhower carried a majority of the southern states. Nixon picked up North Carolina four years later to continue the trend that had been around for a decade.

        Knowledge is power. The truth will set us free.

      2. I can’t really speak to why the “liberals” you know won’t talk to you. But here, we really respond better if you demonstrate that a) you read the post, b) you understood the post, and c) you’re capable of acknowledging basic facts and discussing them in an intellectually honest fashion.

        It’s possible that other educated folks are shunning you for reasons other than what you imagine.

      3. History is cute and all and successfully regurgitating it is a great way to get a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker for being the teacher’s pet, but what the parties were has little bearing on what we’re left with now.

        The major flaw of the Democratic party is that they went corporate after ’84 as a means of dealing themselves back into the game. These days they fight for the poor and for civil rights with the same fervor as a middle manager on valium.

        But that’s the good news. The bad news is their opponents, the Republicans, have become so inbred by success over the last four decades that their candidates have become slurring, slack-jawed caricatures of John Wayne; only recognizable as propped-up Electric Horseman shills. None of the electorate really believes that the Republican party has an edge on issues like the economy and foreign policy anymore.

        We know that Mitt Romney will bleed the economy dry through deregulation and tax breaks for cronies. We know that Mitt Romney will destabilize the Middle East by over-supporting Israel. We know that he will make gross missteps with China and others. We know he believes in small government and fiscal responsibility in the same way I believe in the existence of virgin hookers who are waiting for the perfect wannabe rock stars to sweep them off their feet.

        We know that the Republican party doesn’t really care about issues like gay marriage and abortion. They only fall back on those hot-button soft targets to lather up their fundamentalist base. Speaking of, if there’s one issue Republicans do mobilize over, it’s education. They know better than anyone that an educated, informed electorate is the most dangerous thing in the world.

        Seriously, if you vote for Mitt Romney, you’re going to come to one of three sobering realizations in the near future: 1) you couldn’t bear to admit you were racist, 2) your hubris blinded you in believing your conservative values were anything but the emperor’s new clothes or 3) you were too stinking rich to give a damn about the backs you were walking on all those years.

        The Republican party will collapse in my lifetime. They represent no one.

      4. Sam, thank you for proving my point. And a laugh.

        fiksun8, your comments are stylish, but lack substance. Cronyism is most often achieved through government regulation and policies – see ENN Mojave Energy LLC, Solyndra, Joe Hynansky, Shore Bank, Abound Solar, A123 Systems, and Ener1 just to name a few recent ones.

        Both major political parties have been guilty of cronyism over the years, thus the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. Both movements saw outside forces attempt to influence them, but to the heart of both was the frustration of the politically well connected getting bailed out while the common man was sold out. One side sees the solution in bigger government – more government oversight and control. The other side sees more individual liberty and personal responsibility, recognizes that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. A level playing field should involve a leveling for equal opportunity, not a leveling of results.

        You’re incorrect about Republicans and education. We know that a better education is the greatest hope for America remaining free. Especially a better education for the least fortunate. That is why we support empowering families to choose the schools that best fit their child’s educational needs – freedom of choice in education.

        There are no illusions here that Mitt Romney is the answer. Simply a realization that Obama is certainly a part of the problem. If Mitt doesn’t govern the way I hope, I’ll support a candidate running against him in the 2016 Republican Primary.

  5. G, it’s not a condescending catch phrase if it’s clearly true – you didn’t read the original post or you didn’t understand it. That’s abundantly clear from the fact you missed (or ignored) that Sam was from the south, as are several other of the authors at this site.

    And if you dislike cronyism, then let’s point out the fact that the Republicans are worse about it than the Democrats could dream of being – think Bank of America, Citibank, Countrywide, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, and the tea party movement itself (which was created nearly out of whole cloth by Americans for Prosperity with Koch money). Yes, both parties do it, but that’s fundamentally an example of false equivalence that’s as bad as “balancing” the overwhelming number of climate scientists who understand that industrial climate disruption is real with a tiny minority of deniers (those who deny the fact that many scientific laws support the reality of industrial climate disruption).

    I’m curious what makes you think Romney will govern the way you want him to? He’ll either turn out to be a moderate like he governed when he was Governor of Massachusetts or he’ll turn out to be an extremist like he claimed to be in order to win the Republican Primary. Either way he’s a liar who is cynically exploiting you to gain access to power. You’re OK with that?

    1. Brian, I live in the South too. Does that somehow automatically lend my opinion more weight?

      Either you didn’t read my last post or you didn’t understand it. That is abundantly clear from the fact you missed (or ignored) where I said, “Both major political parties have been guilty of cronyism over the years…” (Hint – “both” includes the Republican Party). One party had a grassroots movement where the citizens began voting out the corrupt establishment. The other party wants more of the same.

      The Tea Party movement was a movement long before it held that moniker, and long before outside money entered the fray. It is a fiscal libertarian movement from within the Republican Party. Although a majority Evangelicals consider themselves Tea Partiers, a majority of self-identified Tea Partiers do not consider themselves Evangelicals.

      This election, either Obama will continue being President, or Romney will be. Those are the two realistic choices for President. I know that the country can’t handle another four years of Obama, so I am supporting Romney. I hope that We the People can hold him accountable to govern in an acceptable way. Nobody will govern entirely the way I want him/her to, but that is to be expected in a Republic.

      I take heart that you appear to abhor liars holding the Presidency. Since I know you’d never allow yourself to be exploited, I am relieved that you won’t be voting for Obama.

      1. Brian, I live in the South too. Does that somehow automatically lend my opinion more weight?

        As Brian makes clear, the issue is your ignoring the credibility of Southerners who call you on your ludicrous assertion that the South is no worse on racism than the rest of the country.

        Either you didn’t read my last post or you didn’t understand it. That is abundantly clear from the fact you missed (or ignored) where I said, “Both major political parties have been guilty of cronyism over the years…” (Hint – “both” includes the Republican Party). One party had a grassroots movement where the citizens began voting out the corrupt establishment. The other party wants more of the same.

        I’m starting to wonder if you not only didn’t read my post, but you also failed to read Brian’s comment. The charge here is “false equivalency.” Let me explain. Jeffrey Dahmer killed and ate people. I routinely jaywalk. Therefore we’re both criminals. We both do it.

        The Tea Party movement was a movement long before it held that moniker, and long before outside money entered the fray. It is a fiscal libertarian movement from within the Republican Party. Although a majority Evangelicals consider themselves Tea Partiers, a majority of self-identified Tea Partiers do not consider themselves Evangelicals.

        Now you’re embarrassing yourself. Yes, there have always been barking nitwits on the extreme right, but they were not an organized entity in any way until the moneyboys came along and set them up. If you were paying attention you’d have noticed that before the 2008 election you’d never heard of the Tea Party. About three days after the election they were the most important organized collective in the country.

        I understand viral and tipping points pretty well, and national sentiment re: al Qaeda didn’t coalesce much quicker than this after 9/11.

        This election, either Obama will continue being President, or Romney will be. Those are the two realistic choices for President. I know that the country can’t handle another four years of Obama, so I am supporting Romney. I hope that We the People can hold him accountable to govern in an acceptable way. Nobody will govern entirely the way I want him/her to, but that is to be expected in a Republic.

        Yes, and this is all quite obvious. I think you must know, admit it or not, that the only people who’ll be holding President Romney accountable are the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson.

        I take heart that you appear to abhor liars holding the Presidency. Since I know you’d never allow yourself to be exploited, I am relieved that you won’t be voting for Obama.

        Mr. Obama is guilty of lies, yes. Perhaps on the order of one for every 50 documented prevarications by his GOP opponents. Still, the principled voter takes even that much seriously, and if his record doesn’t produce at least a couple votes for Jill Stein among the S&R staff I’ll be surprised. But I’m sorry, we shan’t be tolerating any silliness on this front from anyone who has even considered voting for Romney any more than we’d be lectured on the importance of racial diversity in hiring by a Klan Grand Wizard.

    1. That appears to confirm your 4-point theory, but it’s confounded. Lots of racist voters would also oppose an uppity wommin who was running for president instead of baking cookies for her man. I still say the number is larger.

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