Monday, September 22, 2008

How racist are we?

Are black people lazy? Violent? Responsible for their own problems? An Associated Press story the other day pointed out that, in a close election, racism could spell the difference between Barack Obama going to the White House or back to the Senate. An AP-Yahoo News poll conducted in conjunction with Stanford University found that one-third of white Democrats, people who might typically be considered Obama's base, have negative views toward black people. The figures were higher among independents, who could well swing the election to either Obama or John McCain. And the poll said those who harbor the negative perceptions are less likely to back Obama than those who don't. Here are some excerpts from the AP story on the poll:

- Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

- Among white Democrats, Hillary Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries - particularly whites with high school education or less - were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

- "We still don't like black people," said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Sad, but not surprising. Exit polling from the Democratic primaries in West Virginia and Kentucky revealed a significant level of racism among Clinton's supporters, and there's no reason to believe that would change in the November election. That's why you don't see Obama campaigning in those states. It's a lost cause. And if John Clouse is any indication, Obama also may be facing an uphill fight in the key state of Ohio. Personally, I'd vote for a black Muslim communist transgender woman if I thought she/he was the best person to lead our country for the next four years, but I'm going to venture a guess that I would be in the minority. If a person opposes Obama's views and feels McCain better represents their concerns, they should obviously vote for McCain, without fear of being labeled a racist. But if a person supports Obama's positions yet votes against him solely because he's black, they should be ashamed. Perhaps Stanford political scientist Paul Sniderman, who helped analyze the survey, summed it up best when he said, "There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn't mean there's only a few bigots."



Blogger Ellipses said...

Hey, that black guy is trying to steal something from that white guy in the picture! Put the camera down and help that white guy!


September 22, 2008 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

A wise man once said, "This racism is killing me!" That man was Dave Chappelle.

I don't think there needed to be a study performed to prove that bigots still roamed the streets with us daily. These daily tracking polls don't mean squat because people are afraid to admit that they would never vote a black man president. They may say now that they would vote for Barack Obama but once they enter the voting booth with no one looking over their shoulder it will be a different story.

September 22, 2008 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Yeah, greg... it's AMAZING that 25%-- TWENTY FIVE PERCENT... 1 in 4 people in West Virginia and Kentucky were fine with telling a pollster "Yeah, I ain't gonna vote fer no Obama's cause number 1, he's black, and number 2, he's one uh dem muslims... you know... from another kuntry or sumpin!"

So... if he wins... figure it would have been by a whole lot more had his mom gotten knocked up by one of the local farm boys instead of some guy from Kenya.


September 22, 2008 at 2:03 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I've been saying for a while that if Senator Obama was white these polls wouldn't even be remotely close.

September 22, 2008 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Also, when I read stories like this it makes me a bit ashamed to be an American. There I said it! To live in a country that claims to be the greatest nation in the world and yet people are still looked down upon because of something so minor, like skin color, is embarrassing.

September 22, 2008 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Greg, you need to pack it up and move to Russia now.

Bye buddy!


September 22, 2008 at 2:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nate Silver at www.fivethirtyeight,com has an interesting analysis of this poll. A good point he makes is that poll is of "adults," not registered voters or likely voters, so it might not be a good guide to how race will impact the vote.

Another good point -- it doesn't take into account the voters who will pull the lever for Obama to advance racial equality.

--Brad Hundt

September 22, 2008 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Brad... It's always good to look at data in new ways. I, too, have data based only on "adults" and not of registered or even likely voters... but that puts obama up by 14 points. I think if you look at the segment of people most likely to harbor racist views, and then look at the group who votes most often, the two circles in that venn diagram are gonna be smushed together like two big racist boobies havin' a night out at Pickles.


September 22, 2008 at 2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How crude.

I will not be voting for Obama, however it has nothing to due to his race.

It is because he a far left-wing liberial and his views do not match mine which are much more middle of the road.


September 22, 2008 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...


That's funny, I am voting for Obama for the EXACT SAME REASON, ie, he is middle of the road.

Go fig!


September 22, 2008 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

No one is calling you a racist for simply not agreeing with Senator Obama's political position. Saying that you agreed with him but couldn't vote for him because he is black would be a problem. Why are you disgusted?

September 22, 2008 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

I reread his comment, and then looked at the context... and I think he was upset over my boob analogy...

But hey, at least he is voting according to issues and not due to race :-)


September 22, 2008 at 3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to break it to your giant self-pity party, but Obama only trails McCain by 4 (49-45) in WV. There is no overt evil racist boogie man in that state like the media and stupid people like to perpetuate. You see, the media spend an entire week in WV interviewing random hilljack after hilljack until they found a few that would say something racist. They show said interviews on TV...stupid American public buys it hook, line, and sinker.

Perhaps if the "progressives" got their heads out of their asses and treated Appalachians like human beings, the Dems could carry WV.

September 22, 2008 at 8:37 PM  
Blogger Dale Lolley said...

So does the fact that something like 95 percent of blacks are going to vote for Obama mean that there is some racism going on there as well?
If 95 percent of of white America were voting for McCain against a black man, this poll would be meaningful. In my opinion, this is an attempt to play on people's guilt.
Are there racists out there? Absolutely. But I have my doubts that it's 25 percent or more.
And answering some random questions in a poll means nothing.
I'm sure the poll was: Give one word you would use to describe black people
A. Shifty
B. Angry
C. Dangerous
and on down the list until you got maybe one or two good qualities.
I'm not saying there may not be some latent feelings there, but that certainly doesn't make those people racists in my book.
They may not be the brightest bulbs in the ceiling, but it's not racism.

September 22, 2008 at 9:59 PM  
Blogger miss bess said...

I think we should all join the coffee group with John Clouse, 57, of Somerset, Ohio, but bring along some scones and coffee cake made out of the tears white America sheds when they fear progression and change.

September 22, 2008 at 11:01 PM  
Blogger angry mandy said...

I firmly believe that us northerners should give the boot to the southern states...despite the name of our country, we are clearly not 'united.'

If people in places like W. Virginia and Kentucky want to continue living in the past, totin' around them shotguns and dressin' up in they bed sheets all KKK style then let 'em. Their ignorance is not only an embarrassment to educated, civilized Americans, but to the entire human race.

I find it heartbreaking and shameful that the color of Obama's skin could stand between he and the presidency...when he is clearly the appropriate candidate to lead us out of the mess we're in today.

September 22, 2008 at 11:46 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

To address a couple of things... the 25% figure regarding WV and KY was a figure that came out of an actual primary poll where exit voters said that race was "very important" in choosing a candidate... so, that isn't made up.

Also, the 95% of black voters who will vote for obama... I think Al Gore got something like 90% of the black vote... While I am sure that there are racial drivers in the 95% figure, I think it contributes to increased volume rather than increased proportion... ie, more black people will vote because of Obama, not a higher percentage of them will vote for obama than would otherwise vote for a democrat in general.

So, trite banter aside, numbers is numbers.


September 23, 2008 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

Angry Mandy: I live in Virginia. I don't tote a shotgun. My sheets are sea foam green and remain in my bedroom. My college diploma reads, "magna cum laude."

Anyone who has taken e basic course in statistics knows that polls can be manipulated to reflect just about anything the pollster wants them to. Dale Lolley gives a perfect example in his post. It's just a numbers game. Also, any remotely respectable poll will include its margin of error. That's important to look at too as it can skew the real results even if they seem to be almost even.

Your comment, "Their ignorance is not only an embarrassment to educated, civilized Americans, but to the entire human race," is prejudicial, by the way, and prejudice is prejudice whether it pertains to race, intelligence, or which side of the Mason-Dixon line one lives on.

Before disparaging the intelligence of an entire demographic, you might want to check your own grammar and spelling:

It should read, "I firmly believe WE northerners..."

And you should use "...dressin' up in THEIR bedsheets..."

Try using "...the color Obama's skin is standing between HIM and the presidency."

Here's a tip for you: Nothing takes the teeth out of a verbal attack more quickly than stating your comments erroneously.

September 23, 2008 at 10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't accept that 95% of blacks will vote for Obama simply because he is black any more than I accept that 95% of whites will choose McCain because he's white. However, I think that racism is still alive and well in America, but less overt than it has been over the past 40 or 50 years. And that fact could swing the deciding minority of votes over to McCain. I also think that religious bias is high in this country and that the same scare tactics that they tried to use against JFK's Catholicism just might work this time around against Obama because the people who attacked the US on 9/11 happened to be Muslim, and the totally fatuous "Obama is a Muslim" campaign is still being propagated.

You may not hear most Americans rattling on about towel-headed camel jockeys the the way we did against Nips and Krauts during WWII, but prejudice and fear and racism still abound in America. It's a white, male country, and all you have to be to realize that is female or non-white.

September 23, 2008 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Some white males like to act as though they're some put-upon minority these days, but when you look at who really runs things in this country, from Wall Street to Washington, it's old white guys.

September 23, 2008 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Hey, it's wednesday... isn't it "new blog post" day?

My mouth is watering, yet the bell didn't ring yet!


September 24, 2008 at 12:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Angry Mandy,

I live in West Virginia, and I have never "dressed up in a bed sheet," nor do I speak like that.

Southwestern Pennsylvania isn't all that different from West Virginia, so I'm not sure why you think you're entitled to a high horse.

You are no better than me, despite the fact that you live on the Eastern side of the state line and I live on the Western.

I hope you see the irony in your comment -- you are dismissing an entire group of people based on an irrelevant factor like geographical location while decrying others' practice of dismissing people based on an irrelevant factor like skin color.

Don't strain something patting yourself on the back.

September 24, 2008 at 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Racism still exists in the U.S. plain and simple. Obama has been proclaiming "change" specifics from day one and McCain realized how in the hole, so in fear and also proclaiming change, he picks Palin as his running mate. Do McCain supporters realize just how dangerous this is. This bible-thumping, tough question-evasive creationist could possibly be leader of the free world!!?!?!! This country is made up of a melting pot of individuals not just white christians, folks. McCain's poor choice of VP is so dangerous that he should automatically be disqualified from the race. Do you know specifics of what they stand for...come on...actual specifics? Think about it. Also, I travel extensively and am amazed at how much the world dislikes McCain and never-been-out-of-the-U.S. Palin. They think it's a joke. The inspiring, specific plan Obama has more experience and the respect of the world. The world is afraid for what will happen to them with McCain/Palin...a valid fear. Aren't you?

September 24, 2008 at 12:55 PM  
Blogger Brant said...


I'll get back to work on the blog tomorrow. Had a lengthy work-related meeting today. Any issue you'd particularly like to tackle? Cheers.


September 24, 2008 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Oh cheesewhiz, now I feel like I came off as demanding :-(

Sometimes, it's easy to forget that you guys are at your job :-)

I'm at a complete blank... everything is just so "right" with the world.

Ah, well... see yinz 2morrow...


September 24, 2008 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Generally, I am off during the day and have time to blog, but not today. Anyway, here's a teaser. For tomorrow, I'm thinking gays, Tasers and the Chinese. But not gay Chinese people with Tasers.

September 24, 2008 at 5:03 PM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

That soooo reminds me of that time I spent 75 bucks on... oh, nevermind.


September 25, 2008 at 6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stereotypes exist because they disguise the fear people feel about things that are different.

Blacks are lazy. White Southerners are stupid and lazy. Irishmen are drunks. Italians are greasy. Frenchmen are horny. Brits are stiff. Farmers are unsophisticated. Athletes are dumb and getting by on their physical prowess. Americans are self-absorbed. Jews are stingy. Germans are warlike. Poles are stupid. None of these stereotypes is generally applicable, but they provide a nice, easy handle for us for us to grasp when we don't really want to take the time to develop our own opinions based on all possibilities and not just our own experience.

September 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM  
Anonymous ohmy said...

I never thought I was racist or one to discriminate but who knows. I hope not. After Palin's stellar, impressive (OMG!!!! WTF!!!!) interview on CBS (Candidates are generally asked even more difficult questions. She actually got off easy.), I am convinced that this white lady is not fit for the White House...or even the one across the street from me. She is clearly out of her league on all issues and cannot form a sentence unless scripted at a podium. The world is laughing at us. I actually got e-mails from friends in London and Moscow saying you've got to be kidding...we might have to deal with her?!? It's all over the news. I'm a white Republican (until now) and because of my pride in the red, white and blue I'm voting black. Go Obama!!!!

September 26, 2008 at 2:00 PM  

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