Did Racism Cost Obama Votes In 2008?

Although most of us like to think optimistically about the national character, it looks like racism did cost Obama, at least according to a new economic study by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Since Obama had such a commanding victory on election night ’08, most people didn’t notice that there was something a little off about the results. It turns out, though, that Obama should have won buy as much as 3-5 percentage points more if it weren’t for anti-Black racism, meaning he could have gotten as much as 58.7% of the popular vote, as opposed to the 53.7% that he received.

The way that the author was able to disentangle the effects of race was by looking at Google searches by region. He rated different regions as more or less racist based on how many objectively racist searches were performed in that region. He then compared Obama’s vote total to Kerry’s from 2004, finding that Obama gained fewer votes in racist regions.

This study comes as racial tensions continue to divide American society. Just recently, a Kentucky church banned interracial couples and Republican strategist Pat Buchanan histrionically wrote that “White America Is Doomed.” Under this backdrop of racism and the curtailing of civil rights, it’s easier to see what the study proves: that some people are so uncomfortable voting for a black man that they’ll go against their own self-interest to avoid doing so.

Looking forward, this could spell big trouble for Obama in 2012. Since his approval ratings have been stagnant and below 50%,  he is going to need all the help that he can get. This means that Obama’s not going to be dealing with only a bad economy, a do-nothing Congress, and an unenthused base, but he also will have a 3-5% handicap. I guess all we can do is hope for Newt Gingrich to win the nomination.

Related Stories:

Romney Gains New Endorsements, Gingrich Gains In Polls

Obama Less Popular Than Carter, More Popular Than Bush

Romney Beats Obama Soundly in New Hampshire and Other Polls

Photo credit: borman818's Flickr stream.


Felicita Luna
Felicita L5 years ago

I believe that racism plays a major role in most of the Anti -Obama campaigning!

Jackie Agusta
Jackie Agusta6 years ago

I'm sure there are voters in America that would rather die first than vote for a black man, even if he is educated, tolerant and the best person for the job. One of the most inspiring and moving speeches I've ever heard was one delivered by Obama himself, you can read the transcripts for yourself online. Personally I would like to see Obama serve another term in the White House because, as I have said before, he was never going to be able to fix the mess that was left behind by the Bush reign of terror and considering the attitude towards him since day one of his presidency I'm surprised the man was able to get anything done at all...:-(

Holly Lawrence
Holly Lawrence6 years ago

Of Course!

Newguest C.
W. C6 years ago

Very possibly.

SL M.6 years ago

OH COME ON- BS BS BS - people voted FOR him because of his "race" which is HALF WHITE least people forget. NO ONE is bashing this loser because of his race but because he is a republican in democrats clothing. And for the IDIOT that said they gave Bill Clinton a pass - ARE YOU INSANE? They rode that man EVERY day since the primaries - The reason the repukes are on O is because he's a supposed Dem - the Dems are on him because his is a spinless "leader" and is going back on all his promises. I voted for him last time but will NOT vote this time around - NO difference as he LETS the repukes have EVERYTHING they want. It is EASY to play the race card so he doesn't have to ACCOUNTABLE for his failure.

Ann W.
Ann W6 years ago

Why do people persistently refer to Obama as 'black', thereby denying him his white American heritage, courtesy of his mother Ann? She was, apparently, of predominantly English ancestry with Irish, Welsh and some German as well. In my book that makes Obama as much 'white' as 'black' and, in any case, the whole thing should not matter at all. He is an intelligent, articulated, good-living man so the pigment of his skin should not matter, should it?

Charles Temm JR
Charles Temm JR6 years ago

There is no denying that racists exist here and in every other society on the planet so congrads on somebody likely using taxpayer dollars to somehow extrapolate a shift in votes from a region to mean RACISM!!!!

Horrors! Racism...the boogyman of the Left-it exists everywhere ANYONE DARES to disagree with them or their standard bearers...

Whatever...Not that this individual would bother to string all the other far more likely reasons that Obama failed to get the same amount of votes (in certain "racist" regions of course) that Kerry did. Maybe a learning curve kicked in, some voters in this country are finally realizing Dems politicians lie a lot too and this guy Obama had nothing going for him but hot air and his race? No experience in the real world, little experience in politics, a very spotty voting/attendance record while in office, a to say the least--membership in a controversial church....

No can't think like that or blame voter apathy as another contest to see who will screw over the nation this time in the game of incompetent leaders in the White House. Let's just say its all due to racism...woohooo and that gives us an excuse if he loses (as sooooo many Americans pray he does) next year. Wonder if this guy will a Nobel prize too?

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

I guess we'll never know....

Rosalind R.
Rosalind R6 years ago

I voted for Obama not because he was black but because I thought him the better candidate.
McCain was too old & Palin too stupid & inexperienced in case McCain died in office.
Looks like I'll vote for Obama again since the Republicans want him to fail so badly & won't pass anything decent to make progress for the USA.

Regina Carpenter
Regina C6 years ago

Growing up white, in this white dominated, "master race" culture, it's no surprise to me that racism plays a big part in politics, and I was amazed when Obama won the election. Even many so-called "liberal" whites show their bias in their hostile attitudes toward him. They treat Obama differently than they treated Bill Clinton, expecting him to work miracles, while Clinton, (Bubba), was pretty much given a free ride. After all, American exceptionalism is only meant for whites, right? I would say to Pat Buchanan, if white America is doomed, it doomed itself. Its failure to grow and evolve along with the rest of the world has sealed its fate.