Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google Stats United States Politics Technology

Search Tracking Purports To Show Effect of Racism On '08 Election 511

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-they-just-don't-like-the-guy dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Garance Franke-Ruta writes about a new study of racially charged search terms on Google that aims to predict the effects of the Bradley effect, a theory proposed to explain observed discrepancies between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in some U.S. elections where a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other. 'How much we are under-representing people who are intolerant and therefore unlikely to vote for Obama is an open question,' says Andrew Kohut, the president of Pew Research Center. 'I suspect not a great deal, but maybe some. And "maybe some" could be crucial in a tight election.' The study found that the percentage of an area's total Google searches from 2004-2007 that included the racially charged search for the word 'n****r' is a is a large and robust negative predictor of Obama's vote share. 'A one standard deviation increase in an area's racially charged search is associated with a 1.5 percentage point decrease in Obama's vote share, controlling for John Kerry's vote share,' writes Stephens-Davidowitz in the study. The results imply that, relative to the most racially tolerant areas in the United States, prejudice cost Obama between 3.1 percentage points and 5.0 percentage points (PDF) of the national popular vote in the 2008 election. This implies racial animus gave Obama's opponent roughly the equivalent of a home-state advantage, country-wide."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Search Tracking Purports To Show Effect of Racism On '08 Election

Comments Filter:
  • Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bigby (659157) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:14AM (#40295105)

    And how many people voted for Obama because he is black?

    • My immediate thought was just how freaking badly McCain got pummelled despite having this 'home state advantage' across the states...
      • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:32AM (#40295349)

        What they failed to mention is the "Same Party as George W. Bush" disadvantage. Trust me, McCain might have had a built-in advantage, but it was more than overshadowed by the fact he was the Republican candidate who happened to follow Bush. There were people out there who would not have voted for Abraham Lincoln if he was running on the Republican ticket after Bush.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475)

          Trust me, McCain might have had a built-in advantage, but it was more than overshadowed by the fact he was the Republican candidate who happened to follow Bush. There were people out there who would not have voted for Abraham Lincoln if he was running on the Republican ticket after Bush.

          This very same sentiment may well, oust Obama from the presidency this time around.

          I know MANY people that are pretty much thinking this time around "anyone but Obama".

          Personally, I'm in this group too....I've said it bef

          • by Kokuyo (549451)

            The interesting thing to see: People wanting to vote ANYTHING but actually voting for someone that is not the opposing party's candidate.

            Anything but Obama seems to mean Whatshisname (yes, I ain't American) the Republicans have running this year. I'd love to see what happens if enough people realised there are other choices beyond the obvious.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by cayenne8 (626475)

              Anything but Obama seems to mean Whatshisname (yes, I ain't American) the Republicans have running this year. I'd love to see what happens if enough people realised there are other choices beyond the obvious.

              Interesting you brought that up.

              In the past few elections, I've heard at least of a few other candidates, a Green party one...etc.

              This go around, I've not heard even a mention of a single viable 3rd party candidate even trying out there....

              I've actually not even heard a name of anyone else this go a

            • by Shagg (99693)

              That's one of the problems though. The entire system is rigged so that there really aren't any other choices beyond the two parties with all the power. It's a two team game, and a significant percentage of the voters don't care who the candidates are, they just want to vote so that "their" team wins. Not to mention that any third team is rendered nearly invisible and can't even get on the field of play.

        • by azalin (67640)
          I'm not sure if a person like Abraham Lincoln would still be electable today. The game has changed.
        • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:48AM (#40296385) Journal

          Abraham Lincoln destroyed what was left of the Jeffersonian model of the United States and left us with strict federalism. His complete disregard for the Constitution set the stage for the complete disregard that we see today. He was the first president to suspend Habeas Corpus, for instance.

          Slavery was bad, but look at where we find ourselves today. We have more black men in shackles today than we did at the time of the Civil War. We gave up state sovereignty for...essentially nothing. And now any state that thinks it might be better off on its own doesn't have that option. That's not freedom.

          Abraham Lincoln was the worst thing to happen to the US since Alexander Hamilton.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Palin lost him the election. That and not running as mccain 2000. Had he run as McCain from 2000 he would have had a good shot, but Palin still would have sank him.

    • Re:Both Ways (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:19AM (#40295175)
      I remember reading a "vote by race" percentages somewhere.
      Most races were pretty even split for obama/mccain, except for one.
      Black voters gave 97% of the votes to obama.
      • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:43AM (#40295521)

        And blacks voted 88% for Kerry, 90+% for Al Gore, and in 1994 around 95% for Clinton. Last I checked they were all white.

        • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Interesting)

          by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:29AM (#40296167) Journal
          In other words, 3% - 5% of blacks voted for Obama because he was black? That would make sense, since it's reasonable to believe some black people are racist too.

          The problem I have is this study: it's completely one-sided. It only considers the negative effect his race had on the campaign, whereas it would be just as interesting and important to see the positive effect his race had. For example, he was 'making history' (and he did). Would you rather vote for the guy making history, or the guy trying to stop history?

          The thing I like about the study is it's an original and interesting approach to solving the problem. Maybe it can be refined, but I like the idea.
          • by asylumx (881307)
            It's true that he made history, but to be fair, he never once ran his campaign on the idea of "let's put the first black man in the white house."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by slashmydots (2189826)
      Every single survey, poll, etc that was on the news at the time had between 96 and 98% of american black voters voting for him. That means they ignored all policy, all politics, all financial plans, all qualifications, all personal history, all things in general he said he'd do, and just for him based on the color of his skin.
      I'm going to take a wild guess that those kind of numbers beat the 3-5% range of racist people stated in this article. I guess those voters didn't realize this isn't a Miss America
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        When Obama won, a lot of people were saying it's so interesting and historic to have our first black president.
        I responded that it is sort of interesting in the trivia sense, just like it was interesting that Truman was the first haberdasher president.

      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        I guess those voters didn't realize this isn't a Miss America pageant where if a minority wins, it's all special and great and fantastic and a leap forward. The person who wins a presidency election has to actually do something once they win and it actually affects people

        I think the choice of president would matter a lot more if America were a pure dictatorship. It's not. The president cannot actually do a lot without the support of Congress. So the president matters, but his practical power is limited. Che

        • by Artraze (600366)

          Your view is quite outdated, and these days the American president very nearly has the powers of a dictator.

          Remember all that uproar over Republicans, Catholics and birth control? That was all because Obama signed an executive order mandating the Catholic church (among others) to provide birth control.

          While it once was true (and technically still is) that only congress has the power to create laws, that's no longer really meaningful. The federal government has grown, and basically all that growth occurred

      • Every single survey, poll, etc that was on the news at the time had between 96 and 98% of american black voters voting for him. That means they ignored all policy, all politics, all financial plans, all qualifications, all personal history, all things in general he said he'd do, and just for him based on the color of his skin.

        I'm going to take a wild guess that those kind of numbers beat the 3-5% range of racist people stated in this article.

        Except that IS racism. It just changes the range to the favorable side for him.

      • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Reverberant (303566) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:49AM (#40295599) Homepage

        Every single survey, poll, etc that was on the news at the time had between 96 and 98% of american black voters voting for him. That means they ignored all policy, all politics, all financial plans, all qualifications, all personal history, all things in general he said he'd do, and just for him based on the color of his skin.

        What you mean is "96 and 98% of american black voters" voted for the Democrat - the 96% [politico.com] Obama got is consistent with the 90% that Gore got [cnn.com], the 88% Kerry got [cnn.com], the 90% Mondale and Dukakis got [talkingpointsmemo.com], the 94% Johnson got [factcheck.org] etc.

        If blacks were voting overwhelmingly based on race, than you should see overwhelming support for Hermain Cain, Alan Keyes, Ward Connerly, etc. That's not the case.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        The previous election 88% percent voted for the white democrat. This means less than 10% of black voters voted from him based on race. Probably closer to the 3-5%.

      • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beerdood (1451859) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:10AM (#40295931)
        To be fair, democrats have been getting the vast majority of the black vote for at least 30 years now, somewhere around 90%. Clinton had the lowest percentage at "only" 83-85%. Sure, we can recognize that some percentage of the black population purely voted for Obama because he is also black, (thereby ignoring policy) - but it's probably around the same percentage of people not voting for him for the exact same reason. 96-98% of black americans didn't "ignore all policy, all politics, all qualifications" etc.. when they voted for Obama, they did because republican policies fuck them over a hell of a lot more than democrat policies (wasn't always this way, but it has been for at least for a few decades now).

        In some alternate universe, Hillary Clinton is running against Herman Cain for the 2012 election. Herman Cain is not getting 90%+ of the black vote - doubtful that it would be even be 50%.
      • Re:Both Ways (Score:4, Insightful)

        by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:21AM (#40296063)

        Black people voted for Democrats by...
        +91 points in 2008 [cnn.com]
        +77 points in 2004 [cnn.com]
        +81 points in 2000 [bev.net]
        +72/+76 points in 1996 (depends how you count Perot) [cnn.com]
        +73/+80 points in 1992 (Perot, again) [uconn.edu]

        So that's a 13-16 point bump, among a demographic that makes up ~10% of the electorate. At best, Obama would have gotten an extra 2% in the total popular vote. Meanwhile, the summary found 3-5% voting against him because he's black. So it clearly worked against him.

        And that's assuming the black people voted that way because Obama was black, and not because they were sick of the racist crap that they heard throughout the election season. They lean heavily against Republicans (gee, why could that be?). Hearing endlessly about Jeremiah White, hearing Michele Obama referred to as "Obama's baby mama", hearing Rush singing "Barack the magic negro", hearing all the birther nonsense (I actually forget when exactly that started) etc., probably just made them trust Republicans even less.

        But go on, keep thinking of all the black people in America as some barely sentient hive mind that just votes for people who look like them, and never consider issues on an individual basis. That's not racist at all. Nosiree.

        • by Jiro (131519)

          Again, this ignores turnout. Blacks voted for Democrats anyway, so the rate could only increase by a limited amount, but the numbers would increase by more than the rate suggests because of turnout. Not only did 96%-98% vote for Obama, that 98% is taken from a larger base (because of higher turnout) than voted for Clinton, so the effect is more than the 2% you describe.

          And even going by the summary, the description of it as showing the effect of racism is misleading. It shows that fewer people voted for

    • by Roarkk (303058) *
      I think it's disingenuous in the extreme not to consider racial bias towards as well as against Obama in a study like this. In areas such as Atlanta, GA, where African Americans comprise more than 50% of the population, poliiticians are almost exclusively black [wikipedia.org] .

      In Thailand, the Bangkok Post recently ran an article entitled Is Farang an F-word? [bangkokpost.com].

      This implies bias based on racial characteristics, not only for caucasians, but for all ethnic groups. I think a study that tried to explain to what degree r
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Nearly none that had any effect. Those who would do so would have voted democrat anyway.

    • by operagost (62405)
      I also wonder how many people will vote against Romney because he is Mormon. Aren't we also supposed to be "tolerant" of religion? I do realize that you ultimately choose your own religious beliefs, but the fact is that the law makes no distinction.
      Just give it a rest, folks: most people who oppose Obama do so because of his beliefs, his record, and his policies. The racists are an edge case.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Why should we be tolerant of religion?
        Why can we not be intolerant of intolerance?

      • by azalin (67640)
        I dare say that religion is much more important than race in an election. A faithful follower will use his religion as a moral guideline. It is an integral part of his/her personality. If this is good or bad depends on your own views and how close they match.
  • by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:17AM (#40295141)

    tl;dr, but it wouldn't be surprising that someone would vote against a candidate because of his/her race, gender, religion, etc.

    On the flipside, how many votes are FOR the candidate because of his race. Does one cancel out the other?

    And in the greater picture, how many votes for one candidate are purely superficial lacking perspective or insight into his or her take on policies, issues, and other big picture items.

    I feel this kind of study, whether intended or not, has the effect of being purely inflammatory.

    • by tompaulco (629533) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:10AM (#40295935) Homepage Journal
      On the flipside, how many votes are FOR the candidate because of his race. Does one cancel out the other?
      That all depends on the degree and of racism expressed by one side or the other. On the average, it is my experience that minorities tend to be more racist against whites and other different race minorities, than non-minorities are toward minorities. Of course, then you have kooks like the KKK, Nazis and other extremist groups which don't skew the statistics much because they are thankfully such a small percentage.
  • No where is it written what criteria voters are supposed to evaluate their choice for President based on.

    If a votes want to make their selection based on race, who are the rest of us judge them for it. You an I might agree its a terrible criteria to use but that does not make the votes of those who don't think that any less valid.

    • by pezpunk (205653)

      Ii am not even remotely comprehending your point here. Who am i to judge someone for being a racist? Well, I am someone who thinks racism is completely repugnant. Furthermore, if _you_ don't judge someone "just" because they are a racist, then i am going to go ahead and judge you too. Just try and stop me.

  • Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

    prejudice cost Obama between 3.1 percentage points and 5.0 percentage points

    Assuming that it's correct* -- good! This is excellent! When you look at where we were 20, 30, 40 years ago... 3-5% of votes being lost due to prejudice is negligable - in any study of a large population it's within the friggin margin of error

    So - good job, America. We've come a long way.

    * that said, the methodology seems fairly questionable, and I don't have any confidence in the accuracy of this measurement.

    • by poity (465672)

      I recall that this sort of reasoning nearly always gets a +5 Insightful in threads about China ("censorship and oppression? It was worse 30 years ago! They've come a long way"). Very interesting that the same reasoning is kept at a low score in this thread. Bookmarking for future reference.

  • I see no correction in this study to correct for those who seek to correct for the bias inherent in studies such as these. What idiot in his right mind would vote how these things predict he would vote for goodness sakes!? Everyone knows the questions in these polls are all geared to prove the polster right anyhow.

  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:39AM (#40295439) Homepage

    Considering Obama carried 95%+ of the black vote, I wonder why nobody's bothered to do a study to see how many votes racial intolerance cost McCain. Why is it considered perfectly acceptable to charge one side of the equation with racial intolerance but totally unacceptable to even *consider* looking at the other side for similar -- perhaps even more egregious -- motivations?

    And before anyone decides to accuse me of being a shill for McCain, the GOP, or narrow-minded bigots with a racial chip on their shoulder, I thought McCain was a crap candidate and voted Libertarian.

    • Why is it considered perfectly acceptable to charge one side of the equation with racial intolerance but totally unacceptable to even *consider* looking at the other side for similar -- perhaps even more egregious -- motivations?

      The alpha sociopaths in office get more mileage playing that side of the equation. Also: tradition.

      Maybe they could get some powerjuice by playing with the other side, but they tend to go with known algorithms.

    • by EzInKy (115248)

      McCain stood for people supporting society, Obama stood for society supporting people. That small nuiance is the the very difference between conservative and social libertarinism. It is a shame that we can't settle this difference between ourselves without letting the authortaians stay in charge.

    • by Your.Master (1088569) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:58AM (#40295751)

      The study included that. Click the pdf link.

      You can separate that out three ways:

      - Not black, not white: population size is not significant relative to these other effects.
      - Black people: supported Obama more than previous presidents, eg. John Kerry. You had 89% voting for John Kerry, so 96% for Obama (plus somewhat higher voter turnout) is not an overwhelming increase when there's far fewer black voters than white voters in the first place. Especially when Obama actually won overall when Kerry lost (implying he was probably more popular overall.
      - White people: a bit harder to suss out people who might have voted for Obama because he's black, but would not have just voted for any democrat anyway, but little evidence that white people try to hide that motivation.

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:28AM (#40296147)

      Considering Obama carried 95%+ of the black vote, I wonder why nobody's bothered to do a study to see how many votes racial intolerance cost McCain.

      You're about the 10th person to repeat this idiotic canard in this thread and the answer is still the same as it was when the first person posted it far, far, above: 95% of black voters supported Bill Clinton. 85 - 95% of black voters have supported Democratic presidential candidates for decades.

      Are you will wondering? Are your racist fellow travelers who will no-doubt go on to repeat your silly question another dozen times on this story still wondering?

      It is profoundly sad that so many Americans are so ignorant of a common voting pattern in their society that has persisted for decades, and so proud of their ignorance that they repeatedly trumpet it on popular websites like /.

    • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:30AM (#40296177)

      Black people always overwhelmingly vote for the Democratic candidate. Might have something to do with Republicans openly pandering to racists every since the inception of their Southern Strategy [wikipedia.org]. They made a conscious decision to give up on the black vote in order to get the racist vote, and it has worked extremely well for them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:55AM (#40295697)

    I always thought there was a lot of intelligent people on slashdot... yet everytime there is a race based post immediately there are a bunch of racists posts that get modded way up when they should be troll.

    Right now I see three big posts about "if 95% of black people voted for obama, how is that not racist" which is bullshit.

    RTFA! It says he got a 1% bounce from being voting for him because of his race. Look at the past demographic breakdowns, 95% of the african american votes go to democrats even when they are white! So there was not change.

  • by guises (2423402) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:21PM (#40296871)
    What, you can't even spell nigger anymore? Self censorship to this degree is not about sensitivity, it's about fear: people are afraid that if they use the word nigger, even in a non-insulting context, they'll get labeled. I've never seen it censored in print like this before, maybe that's common now, but this is just unacceptable.

    Part of growing up is learning that words can't hurt you.

"Life, loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." -- Marvin the paranoid android

Working...