Surging Pride Among Blacks Greets Obama's Nomination

Sixty-four percent of African-Americans believe their child could be president.

Aug. 27, 2008 — -- Nearly two-thirds of African-Americans believe their child could be president -- far more than the number of whites who say so, and an example of the surging pride blacks express in Barack Obama's nomination for the presidency.

It shows up in other ways: More than six in 10 blacks also say Obama's nomination has made them more proud to be an American. Ninety percent say that if elected Obama would be a leading role model for young black men. And large majorities of blacks and whites alike see the nomination as a sign of progress for blacks in general.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.

Obama on Thursday will become the first African-American to accept a major party's nomination for the presidency.

His acceptance speech coincides with the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.

In that famous address, King said: "1963 is not an end, but a beginning." Also: "We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote."

Among this ABC News/Washington Post survey's results:

Sixty-four percent of blacks think their child could grow up to be president. Among whites, it's 46 percent. That view among blacks is higher than it was in an ABC News/Washington Post poll in 1992, indicating an effect of Obama's successful candidacy.

Sixty-four percent of blacks also say Obama's nomination makes them more proud to be an American. Thirty-two percent of whites say the same.

Ninety percent of blacks, and 75 percent of whites, think that Obama as president would serve as a leading role model to young black men.

Seventy-six percent of blacks, and about as many whites (71 percent) think Obama's nomination represents progress for all blacks more generally.

Blacks in the past have expressed about equal overall levels of national pride as whites, but with less intensity -- blacks have been substantially less likely to describe themselves as "extremely" proud to be Americans.

Reasons for some disaffection are apparent: In June 54 percent of blacks said African-Americans in their own community experience racial discrimination.

In previous polls as many have said they've personally experienced discrimination, four in 10 have reported being stopped by the police solely because of their race, six in 10 say they've been made to feel unwelcome in a store because of their race, and majorities have perceived unequal treatment of blacks in hiring, housing and the criminal justice system.

Obama's Nomination Brings Pride But Will It Produce Votes?

Among registered voters, Obama is supported by 88 percent of blacks -- the norm for Democratic presidential nominees, blacks being the single most reliable Democratic voting group. (John Kerry won 88 percent of blacks, Al Gore 90 percent.)

But turnout can be a challenge.

Barely more than two months before Election Day, 69 percent of blacks say they're registered to vote, compared with 80 percent of whites.

Forty-nine percent of whites support John McCain, 43 percent Obama; that 6-point margin is closer than any of the losing Democratic presidential candidates have managed in exit polls since 1976.

When Democrats have won, the Democratic vs. Republican vote has been close among whites -- 47-52 percent in 1976, 39-40 percent in 1992 ,and 43-46 percent in 1996.

There are differences in commitment.

Among blacks who support Obama, 93 percent say they'll "definitely" vote for him; fewer whites who favor him, 67 percent, are "definite" about it.

And among all blacks, 87 percent are enthusiastic about Obama's candidacy, including 73 percent "very" enthusiastic. Those fall among whites to 53 percent enthusiastic, 21 percent very much so.

Similarly, 90 percent of blacks have a favorable opinion of Obama overall, 77 percent "strongly" favorable. Those are 58 percent and 32 percent, respectively, among whites.

In another measure, 87 percent of registered voters describe themselves as comfortable with the idea of Obama as the first African-American president; 11 percent are uncomfortable with it, including 6 percent "entirely" so.

For comparison, that's much less than the level of discomfort -- 45 percent -- with McCain taking office at age 72.

Blacks nearly unanimously pick Obama over McCain as the candidate who best understands their problems and best represents their personal values, as well as on other personal qualities and political issues.

But Obama is competitive among whites on some fundamental personal qualities as well.

Forty-six percent of whites say Obama better represents their personal values, about as many as the 48 percent who pick McCain. And whites divide evenly, 43-42 percent, on whether Obama or McCain "better understands the problems of people like you."

Politics of Race & the 2008 Presidential Election

There are sensitivities about race that may yet play out in the campaign.

Roughly equal numbers of Americans -- about a quarter in both cases -- say Obama and McCain alike are trying to make Obama's racial background more of an issue than it should be.

There are both partisan and racial aspects to these views.

Democrats are much more apt than Republicans to say McCain has been trying to make Obama's race more of an issue than it should be (38 percent vs. 10 percent), and this view peaks among blacks, with 51 percent saying McCain's trying to make too much of it.

Twenty-three percent of blacks, meanwhile, say Obama himself is trying to make his racial background less of an issue than it should be. But 69 percent say he's handling it about right -- and 65 percent of whites concur.

METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Aug. 19-22, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,108 adults, including an oversample of African Americans (weighted to their correct share of the national population), for a total of 201 black respondents. Results among registered voters have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.

Click here for a PDF with charts and full questionnaire.