Friday, April 18, 2008

Racists still among us

I'm not surprised that bigots still exist in our country. They're in every country around the globe. But I am distressed by the findings of a new Associated Press-Yahoo! poll. The main thrust of the poll was that a significant majority of Democratic voters now believe Barack Obama has a better chance than Hillary Clinton of beating Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain in November. That wasn't all that shocking. But there were some surprises in the poll, not all of them pleasant. Fifteen percent of the poll's participants still believe that Obama is a Muslim. C'mon people. Get your heads out of your backsides. But what really disturbed me was the finding that about 8 percent of whites would be uncomfortable voting for a black candidate to lead the country. The poll suggested very few Democrats would feel that way, but an estimated 13 percent of Republicans would have that opinion. If you extrapolate that beyond the polling group to the entire country, it suggests to me that there are millions of people in our nation who would be reluctant to support a candidate solely because of the color of his or her skin. I have lived in the South before and traveled extensively in that region, and I can tell you from personal experience that there are plenty of racists there. But they don't have that market cornered, not by a long shot. Right here in our area, there are people around us every day who are, pure and simple, haters. And that makes us a lesser country than we could be.


Blogger PRIguy said...

I did not see this poll, so I don't want to make any unsubstantiated comments. I'm not the least bit surprised that there is a significant number of people who are unwilling to vote for a black president. However, I'm curious...was it just this particular black candidate or any black candidate?

You see, I don't like Obama a bit. Not because he's black, but because I don't like his politics. I don't like Clinton either, but not because she's a woman - again, it's her politics (and much, much more in her case, but I'll save those thoughts).

I could fully support a black candidate. I've hoped that Colin Powell would run for president for years. I would vote for Condoleeza Rice - black AND a woman. I like Clarence Thomas too.

I'm a middle-aged white man and I live in the south. In addition to there being puh-lenty of bigotry and racism here, there actually are people to whom race isn't an issue.

The candidates we have to choose from in this election, like them or not, certainly show that we've come a long way out of the dark ages of sexism and racism. But there's a long way to go, and it's a tough road because despite our progress, race is still a hot-button issue.

April 19, 2008 at 6:16 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

To clarify, the poll questions involved any black candidate, not Obama or another particular person. And I agree completely that if you don't like Obama's politics or Hillary's politics, you should feel free to oppose them without fear of being called anti-black or anti-woman. I can understand the feelings of some blacks and some women who support Obama or Clinton, respectively, just because of their color of gender. They have been waiting a long time for a chance to vote for someone who looks like them. It would be nice if we could get to the point in this country where it wouldn't be significant that a candidate was a woman or person of color.

April 19, 2008 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Exactly what I was trying to say, but without my little foray into Republican conservatism.

April 19, 2008 at 6:50 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

I have little confidence in these polls to present any valid information. Just in the past 10 days, I have received phone calls "... will you participate in our survey?" I asked how long it will take, and how many questions, with both questions getting an answer. Soon after the questions started, the poll taker stopped the survey, "... that's all, thank you." Neither the time suggested, or the number of questions was reached -- far from the initial answer to my questions.

The pattern told me that the survey pool is already tainted. In other words, if somebody in the pool of targets didn't meet certain criteria, then that person was eliminated from the pool. If the "right" answers were provided early in the interview, then the survey was completed and the results reported. Obviously, the results were skewed because the pool of people had been screened. The cross section was hardly random, but rather hand-picked. But, when the report was issued, the pollster could legitimately state "... from a randomly selected cross section of the population." Yes, the selection was random, but those providing answers were carefully screened.

Who knows how this poll was conducted?

April 20, 2008 at 7:33 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

You make some valid points, Roger. I've seen some polls in which the paramaters have been spelled out, but I'm guessing there are still ways to manipulate the info. We all saw how "accurate" the polls were in New Hampshire, where Clinton was "supposed" to lose, but didn't. All I can say is that I'll be really glad when Tuesday is over. Election days are the most fun for me, just because of the element of the unknown and the excitement of watching the results trickle in and the numbers shift and change (Yeah, I know I'm easily amused). But I don't think I can take too many more of those Obama and Clinton ads on TV, or the wall-to-wall coverage on the all-news stations. At this point, I think I could go out on the stump and deliver a reasonable facsimile of their campaign speeches. Good to hear from you again, Roger.

April 20, 2008 at 9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is nearly impossible to achieve a random sampling of the population through random contact. The study starts off that way, but must be seeded with targeted contact once it becomes apparent which segment of the population is being underrepresented. Very often, the underrepresented groups are young people and minorities. Think of a population that is a certain percentage hispanic and a certain percentage 18-24 years old that is being polled via telephone. In order to have a respondent rate of hispanics proportionate to the population, you have to attempt to contact a much higher number of them due to a very prevalent language barrier. The 18-24 demographic is much more likely to be in a "cell-phone only" residence and will not be available to contact via traditional telephone polling. This is why, when you answer a few demographic answers incorrectly, you are screened out because if you weren't, the end result of the study would be of 35+ caucasians (with a majority of those being female).

April 20, 2008 at 12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's one thing to vote for a woman or a black in the primaries, quite another to support one in the general election for all the marbles. I seriously doubt that this nation has come far enough to elect a black, and maybe not far enough to elect a woman. Whatever happens, I'll have my theory tested come November...unless Al Gore steals the convention. I like Obama. I'd like Hillary better if she didn't come with Bill attached. Bill benefited from a soaring economy and a nation at peace. His foreign policy wasn't great. I'd hate to have him sharing the Oval Office.

April 20, 2008 at 1:42 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

When you're Hillary, you have to accept the good and the bad when it comes to the former president. If she wasn't married to Bill, she most likely wouldn't even be in position to run for president. On the other hand, because she's married to Bill, she has his baggage to carry, along with her own. The guy can be a great benefit on the campaign trail. He's one of the most charismatic politicians since Jack Kennedy. But he also can exhibit a short fuse and say things (as with his remarks in South Carolina and his butchered defense of her Bosnia sniper snafu) that leave her to clean up his messes.

April 20, 2008 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I have almost no confidence in polls, particularly political polls. If anyone has taken statistics in college, then one knows the ease with which data can be manipulated. Quite simply, one can aver that a full two-thirds of this year's political candidates a NOT people of color. Or that a full 33% of the candidates are married to a philandering liar. It's not too difficult to manipulate numbers.

April 20, 2008 at 7:21 PM  

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