The Race Card: The Public Speaks

Okay, I’m sick of this topic, but we have gone into it in considerable detail in the comments two posts below, so it’s relevant.  Rasmussen did a poll, and while the vast majority of the public thinks McCain’s celebrity ad was NOT racist, a slightly smaller majority thinks Obama’s ‘dollar-bill’ comment WAS:

Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the nation’s voters say they’ve seen news coverage of the McCain campaign commercial that includes images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and suggests that Barack Obama is a celebrity just like them. Of those, just 22% say the ad was racist while 63% say it was not.

However, Obama’s comment that his Republican opponent will try to scare people because Obama does not look like all the other presidents on dollar bills was seen as racist by 53%. Thirty-eight percent (38%) disagree.

Of course, race plays a role (sigh) in perceptions, as well: most black Americans saw the celebrity ad as racist, but (surprisingly) almost half saw Obama’s dollar-bill comment as racist, too:

Not surprisingly, the McCain ad generates significantly different perceptions along racial and ethnic lines. Most African-American voters—58%–saw the McCain ad as racist. Just 18% of white voters and 14% of all other voters shared that view.

As for Obama’s comment, 53% of white voters saw it as racist, as did 44% of African-Americans and 61% of all other voters.

The demographic goodies keep coming:

There were also significant partisan divides. Democrats were evenly divided as to whether the McCain commercial was racist, and they were also evenly divided on the Obama comment. Republicans, by an 87% to 4% margin, rejected the notion that the McCain campaign ad was racist. But, by a 67% to 26% margin, GOP voters believe that Obama’s comment was racist.

Unaffiliated voters, by a five-to-one margin, said the McCain ad was not racist. By a much narrower 50% to 38% margin, unaffiliateds viewed Obama’s comment as racist.

Overall, just 22% of voters believe that most Americans are racist. That view is shared by 32% of Democrats, 20% of unaffiliated voters and 12% of Republicans. African-American voters are evenly divided on the question.

So, a majority of independents said the McCain ad was not racist, while Obama’s dollar-bill comment was…and Democrats are more likely to view their fellow Americans as racist by a factor of nearly 3-1.  Hmmm…nope, I’m going to let it go…

65 comments to The Race Card: The Public Speaks

  • I like the two comments after the absolute last.

  • Well, read them as one…often a thought occurs after I hit enter – and see, I’m not responding to the one issue – I’ll continue to respond to other comments, such as the one you just made – I’m not angry, just tired of talking about who is and isn’t a racist…

  • I think we should let Paris Hilton have the final say:

  • Hey, I’m not without a sense of humor…that’s pretty funny…

  • Peter

    I apologize if I have exasperated our gracious host. I realize that we will not reach common ground regarding the putative racial undertone in the ad. However, moving past this issue I would humbly point out the following:

    1) Age is a perfectly valid criterion to use in picking a President. It’s a cliche to say that the Presidency is the most demanding job in the world. Look how quickly they age in just a few years. At some point, the human body ages past the point where it has the stamina and energy to do the job, not to mention the mental diminution which comes with advanced age or the ailments which strike much more often in the 70′s than the 40′s or 50′s. If you’re comfortable with starting the Presidency at 72, what about 82? 92? At some point, you reach a limit. I think 72 is well past that limit.

    2) If there is more than a dime’s worth of difference between McCain and Bush, where exactly is it? What does McCain believe in that Bush does not believe in?

  • Well, I’m just saying that age discrimination is not something we tolerate in other spheres, so why tolerate it here? McCain appears to be functioning well, though he does occasionally misspeak. But so does George W. Bush, so it ain’t always age…anyway, that’s we have a VP and a line of succession.

    There are major areas of disagreement between Bush and McCain – for example, McCain has been much more out front on nuclear energy and other environmental issues (and yes, nuclear energy is an integral part of reducing our carbon footprint). McCain was one of the first to criticize Bush’s Iraq strategy (often forgotten in the rush to portray him as a warmonger) and insist on the change that became the surge.

    And of course, McCain has famously been a thorn in conservatives side with his support of campaign finance reform, and, for being a Senator who is very comfortable reaching across the aisle (as evidenced by his legislative history and his membership in such ad hoc groups as the Gang of 14). And I seriously doubt you consider Bush a great bipartisan…

  • And you needn’t apologize for exasperating me, that’s just part of the game – I just think, as you do, that we have reached an impasse here on that particular issue…

  • Peter

    1) While you call it age discrimination, I call it finding the best person for the job. Certain faculties diminish with age. I’m 53 and I have to think hard to remember where I park my car at the mall. And I doubt that I will hit those high towering 265 yard drives when I’m 73.

    Corporations rarely put their future in the hands of people in their seventies, and even leaders like Jack Welsh or Sandy Weill had to step down when they reached retirement age, regardless of their accomplishments. As hard as running an S&P 500 company must be, the Presidency is much harder. The Presidency is hard enough as it is without adding the problems inherent in aging.

    2) I think the differences you cite between McCain and Bush are ones of degree and not substance. Bush talked a good game about the environment when he was running in 2000; both were for the surge, even if their timing was different; and while McCain might have criticized Bush’s strategy, you wouldn’t expect Bush to publicly criticize his own strategy. The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed today (On Main Street) which tries to make the case that McCain differs from Bush, and that’s about all they came up with too (although the op-ed mentions stem cell research and McCain’s call for Rumsfeld’s departure).

    On the whole, I think the distance between Bush and McCain is less than it was between LBJ and Humphrey in 1968, which didn’t get poor Hubert very far.

  • re: Rumsfeld, I was vocal on his departure, too – however, the Atlantic Monthly recently had an article that argued that he made a number of very good, very substantive changes to our strategic posture worldwide, when viewed outside of the prism of Iraq exclusively…it’s worth a gander…

  • I think McCain is definitely doing more than talking a good game on the environment, though…look here

  • I’m curious as to your definition of age discrimination, however, if it is not deciding against one solely based upon his age, which is what you argue in the comments above. Seems like that’s a textbook definition…you can sugarcoat it, but isn’t that what it amounts to? He gets a good bill of health from the doctors, and he’s robust enough to have won the Republican nomination and to have served as Senator for all these years…should we just call off the election and put him in the old folks home as a precaution? Or do you view age, much as race, as a useless distraction and get on with the issues?…

  • Peter

    It’s not solely based on age — but it’s a factor — would you want Robert Byrd or (before his death) Strom Thurmond to be President? I don’t think the age of 72 is a deal breaker, but I think it should legitimately be considered.

  • I doubt either of them would have made it through the primaries…but of course, people are free to vote based on whatever factors they choose…but far more important to me than calendar age is the effect of aging, and McCain seems to be in pretty good health…

  • See, I don’t think it’s sheer ageism at all, and especially when McCain’s made as many slip-ups as he has over the last few months. He doesn’t know what his own positions are on many issues without consulting advisors. He tells people that he supported an MLK holiday in his state when that’s actually only been in the recent past, after his stanch opposition. In the area of national security, ostensibly his specialty, he doesn’t know that Iraq and Pakistan don’t have a border, or what the difference is between Sunni and Shi’a, or that it might take a little bit more than telling them “stop the bullsh**” to get them to calm down. He supports cap and trade, except for the cap. Depending on who he’s talking to about immigration, he either strongly supports or strongly opposes his own bill. Now you might assert that these are simply examples of political pander, and maybe there’s something to that. But I don’t think it unreasonable in the slightest to be worried that somebody of his age, who’s prone to as many errors as he’s already shown himself to be, might not be up to the job.

  • Well, at least you give some basis for your opposition, rather than just saying “72 is too old”. That was the point I was trying to make – it’s not the age, it’s the effect of the aging. I disagree with you still, but I find your basis of argument more acceptable, in that you give examples of the aging effect…

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