Monday, September 22, 2008

What percent of whites are likely to vote for Obama because he's black? Since last Friday, I've been reading and watching all the hand-wringing that the media is doing over the AP-Yahoo News poll finding that Obama might lose the race because of racist whites. They're already setting up the explanation, in the event that the Democrats lose: we lost because of evil whites. The language is much magnified over what you read in the initial report that concludes that Obama is disadvantged by 6 percentage points.

The researchers pushed respondents into characterizing blacks, and now the media is flipping out over the fact that 22% of white Democrats think that blacks are complainers. I interpret this, not as an indication of hatred, but a sign that only one-fifth of white Democrats pay attention to what blacks are actually like. Most of the characterizations are positive: 25% of dopey Dems stereotype blacks as being school smart. Generalizations only make sense in comparison to something, and I presume that people use themselves as the reference group, so one-quarter of white liberals think blacks are smarter than whites.

But I digress. How many times have we heard the media conclude that America is still a racist society? This is not news--it's ancient and boring. What is fascinating is that this survey actually asked whites, "Does the fact that if elected, Barack Obama would be the first black president of the United States make you more likely to vote for him, less likely to vote for him, or does it not affect your vote either way?" Even better, they first called respondents on the phone and then had them answer questions online. This gets rid of the problem of giving PC answers to the interviewers.

So what percent of whites are voting for Obama because he is black? Six percent. Combine that with the media cheering for him, and the fact that more blacks will make the effort to vote--Obama is in fine shape.

The media is panting over the parts of this poll that they like, but you'll never see them so anxious to report evidence that Obama might in some ways have an advantage, and that some whites are so generous. Imagine a black person voting for McCain because he is concerned about the welfare of whites. No, no, we mustn't give whites any credit. And this, in spite of the fact that Obama himself said on 60 Minutes yesterday that some whites are probably voting for him to make history.

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