NYT Finds Little Racial Progress Evident in Obama Run; Obama Camp Pushes Back

By Natalie Gewargis

Jul 16, 2008 8:47am

Today’s New York Times analysis of their poll on the racial dimensions to this election –  "Poll Finds Obama’s Run Isn’t Closing Divide on Race" — is being met with some pushback from Camp Obama.

Write the Times’ Adam Nagourney and Megan Thee: " Americans are sharply divided by race heading into the first election in which an African-American will be a major-party presidential nominee, with blacks and whites holding vastly different views of Senator Barack Obama, the state of race relations and how black Americans are treated by society, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The results of the poll, conducted against the backdrop of a campaign in which race has been a constant if not always overt issue, suggested that Mr. Obama’s candidacy, while generating high levels of enthusiasm among black voters, is not seen by them as evidence of significant improvement in race relations.

After years of growing political polarization, much of the divide in American politics is partisan. But Americans’ perceptions of the fall presidential election between Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, also underlined the racial discord that the poll found. More than 80 percent of black voters said they had a favorable opinion of Mr. Obama; about 30 percent of white voters said they had a favorable opinion of him.

The Times writes that " Black and white Americans agree that America is ready to elect a black president, but disagree on almost every other question about race in the poll."

Michelle Obama, for instance, enjoys 58 percent favorability rating among black voters, compared with a 24 percent favorability rating among whites.

Writes Camp Obama in an email to reporters this morning:

" The NYT story about their poll ignores multiple and significant pieces of data that actually indicate a trend much different from that which the story suggests. Here are some straightforward points from their data that are omitted from the story:

"a) More white voters say Obama cares about people like them, than say the same thing about McCain by 31 to 23.

"b) On the essential issue in this campaign bringing about change in Washington Among white voters, Obama is seen as the change agent by 52% to 30%.

"c) Obama’s 31% favorable rating among white voters is virtually identical to McCain’s, which is at 34%.

"d) By a 2 to 1 margin over McCain, white voters are more likely to say that Obama would improve America’s image in the world.

"e) ‘Racial dissension’ around Mrs. Obama’s 24% favorable rating among whites is an extremely odd description given that Mrs. McCain’s favorable rating among white voters is 20%.

"f) Enthusiasm for Obama’s candidacy is roughly 2.5 times higher among white voters than is enthusiasm for McCain’s.

"g) Obama is winning by 6 points against McCain and the gap among white voters is only -9 — a margin smaller than independent expert on voting patterns, Ruy Texiera, said would give Obama a ‘solid win.’

"h) Though there is a six-point margin of error among black voters the NYT describes the 7-point change in black voters’ views that whites had a better chance of getting ahead as slightly higher than 8 years ago. Given that the Times reports horserace questions as statistically even when the margin falls within the margin, it seems that this shift from seven years ago among black voters is well within the margin of error."

- jpt

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