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Race and the Race, 10/20 Update

- October 20, 2008

I just went over the numbers in the Time Magazine poll from September 26-29 (Thanks to the Roper Center for making the data available here). Among all voters (excluding leaners), Obama led McCain 53-47. To get how racial attitudes might be shaping this result, I looked at white voters who disapprove of George Bush’s performance as president. I did this because I think it’s safe to assume that whites who approve of Bush at this point will probably be voting for McCain whether his opponent were white, black, brown, or purple.

In this group of Bush disapproving whites, Obama has 64 percent of the vote. I then looked how the Obama vote varied with the response to this question:

“Which of these statements comes closer to your own views?

1. Racial discrimination is the main reason why many black people can’t get ahead these days, OR

2. Blacks who can’t get ahead in this country are mostly responsible for their own condition”

Obama did 30 points worse among those who said blacks were responsible for their own condition compared to those who cited racial discrimination (80 percent to 50 percent). The effect is most pronounced among Democrats. Republicans and Independents who cited blacks’ own responsibility were only slightly less likely to vote for Obama (4 and 3 points, respectively). For Democrats, however, the difference was 10 points. Table with results after the jump.

**Update: The first commenter makes a good point and I should have pointed out that these are pure independents (those left after independents who lean to one party or another are assigned). That said, there aren’t many of them–something like 30, so take the numbers for independents with a grain of salt.

Obama Performance By Party and Racial Attitudes

DiscriminationBlacks Responsible
All 80 50
Republicans 15 11
Independents 31 28
Democrats 99 89