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

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  • Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bigby (659157) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:14AM (#40295105)

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

  • by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:17AM (#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.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:19AM (#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.
  • Nice! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:20AM (#40295193) Homepage Journal

    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.

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

    by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:26AM (#40295261)

    I know white folks who voted for Obama, essentially, because it'd be so progressive to have a black president.

    Elections have always had ties to demographics. The fact that the demographic in question in this case was "black" doesn't really change anything -- it just makes people wank about it more.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:28AM (#40295293)
    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 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 (and the entire world and all of human history from that point forward).
  • Re:Both Ways (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ftobin (48814) * on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:32AM (#40295331) Homepage

    I know white folks who voted for Obama, essentially, because it'd be so progressive to have a black president.

    Considering these folks are attempting to be "so progressive", it sounds like there is little chance they would vote Republican.

  • by swb (14022) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:32AM (#40295347)

    Worse yet, it makes a pretty big leap of faith in assuming what Obama "should have won" versus what Kerry won in the previous election and presumes that the negative difference is due to racism.

    Why? Kerry was a much different candidate than Obama -- longer-serving Senator, Viet Nam and armed forces veteran -- it's easy to see where some percentage of swing voters may have found these kinds of factors compelling for Kerry but not for Obama and either not voted at all or voted for McCain or a third party candidate.

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

    by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:32AM (#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.

  • by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:42AM (#40295495)

    It is overrated snce you're repeating a ridiculous line claiming blacks only voted based on race which is silly. In 2004, 88% of blacks voted for white guy John Kerry and more than 90% voted for white guy Al Gore and nearly 95% for Bill Clinton. So, yes, while the jump for Obama is noted, it's not that much bigger when you look historically. It's not as if a large proportion were gping to vote for McCain regardless. So, it's much more likely that the vast majority vote based on pltical affiliation not race when you look at he last couple f elections.

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

    by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:43AM (#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, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:45AM (#40295545)

    So in 1994 when Bill Clinton got around 95% of blacks to vote for him it was because he was black?

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

    by Reverberant (303566) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:49AM (#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.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:52AM (#40295645) Homepage Journal

    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 before and I'll say it again.

    At this point, I'd vote for a small soap dish over the current administration.

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

    by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:54AM (#40295675) Homepage
    Well I frequently hear various political commentators stating that he was the "first black president".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:55AM (#40295685)

    You mean like New Black Panthers intimidating voters... oh, wait... Eric Holder said nothing to see there. Never mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:55AM (#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.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Desler (1608317) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:56AM (#40295715)

    They are also idiots.

  • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @09:58AM (#40295741) Homepage

    Well don't worry. There's enough history of democrat front groups getting the dead out to vote. And let's not forget in Florida, that the DOJ is trying to push the state so they can't remove dead voters from the register either. And hey, let's not forget that Holder refused to go after the NBP for voter intimidation either.

    Of course the easiest way to fix what I've just mentioned is to have voter ID. Remember, racist Canada requires ID to vote. So should the US.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:07AM (#40295891) Homepage Journal

    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 around...I'd venture to guess neither has the rest of the 99% of the US. And at this point in the game, it would be too late really.

    Money is the name of the game here these days (sadly) and a 3rd party candidate wouldn't have nearly enough time to raise funds to get their name out in the tv ads....

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

    by Beerdood (1451859) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:10AM (#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 Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:11AM (#40295951) Homepage

    I know a lot of white folks that voted for Obama because they were genuinely scared of Palin being in any position of power.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pezpunk (205653) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:15AM (#40295987) Homepage

    the constitution guarantees the right of people to hold racist opinions, but it does not protect them from being judged or called out for their ignorance.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:19AM (#40296027) Homepage

    I saw a number of people who were on the fence and were pushed over that fence by the simple act of McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. Palin is an idiot fundie nutbag that was bad enough to help people get over whatever lingering racism they may have had regarding Obama.

    Palin proved that there's something the electorate fears more than a black man in the White House.

  • Tea Party racists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RJBeery (956252) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (yreebjr)> on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:20AM (#40296041)
    And yet the Republicans and specifically the Tea Partiers were supporters of Herman Cain...ergo the Tea Party and Conservatives are RACISTS because they don't vote for DEMOCRATS...
  • Re:Both Ways (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:21AM (#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.

  • Re:Both Ways (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @10:23AM (#40296099) Homepage

    Or they perhaps realize that they are not white and ultra-wealthy.

    This is the true constituency of the Republican party.

    Why would ANY one else be foolish enough to vote GOP?

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

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:03AM (#40296585) Homepage Journal

    But would you vote for an ignorant Republican and throw the people to the wolves?

    Well, no...I'd not vote an 'ignorant' Republican...but from what I've seen, I don't think Romney has shown himself to be an ignorant person.

    At the very least, he seems to have much more on the ball than, say...Joe Biden, who can't seem to keep his foot out of his mouth...and is only one heart attack away from the presidency.

    Obama is a center-right president, which of course upsets both the left and the extreme-insane-fallen-off-the-map-right. There's a real danger that we could wind up with wingnut throwbacks in charge just because modern people aren't quite satisfied with Obama.

    I have to heartily disagree with you in my view of Obama. Perhaps you are describing him from a European point of view, not the US view on liberal vs conservative.

    I think Obama is one of the most left leaning, divisive and ideological people I've ever seen in power in the US, much less in the presidency. I think he is so very stuck to his ideals based agenda, that he cannot truly compromise or even see when things he tries and supports just do not work. I think he is so bent on going with fundamentally changing the US, its principals...etc...that he wants to keep pushing it even to the detriment of our country and its people.

    I think he believes he is so right, and that the US's approach for all these years is so fundamentally wrong..that he cannot step back, and see how he has been hurting the country.

    Is he a 'bad' guy? No. I think he's likely an amiable person, and I'd have a beer with him too. I just think he makes for a horrible president, and I'm pretty much opposed to 99% of what he supports and his vision for the US.

    Sure, he might be somewhere near the 'center' as you described in Europe...which to many Americans as being far off the left side of the liberal scale, it prevents acurate readings.

    In the US, Obama's about the most left leaning, liberal, progressive person we've ever seen rise to such a high office. Many people seem to be shocked....but he was honest about it, and in his writings, actions and own words...he has shown what he stands for, but people didn't see it during election time.

    I think Hope and Change, rock-stardom and being the first black president overshadowed the election so much, that no one paid attention to his really political ambitons, till after the hoopla died down, and we saw him in action in office.

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

    by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:07AM (#40296649)

    both sides have nut jobs you just don't like the republican ones more that you don't like the democrats ones so you vilify them. unfortunately under the current two party system the most whacked out nut-jobs are generally the one elected on both sides and then we wonder why the country is headed to hell.
    four years ago it was those war mongering right wing nut jobs killing th economy now it is the left wing socialist commies giving away all of the money they can ruining our economy. really what we need is a third party who can sit in the middle and say your both nucking futs and come up with a less insane perhaps even a workable solution but as soon as a third party starts up it is killed by the other two or is even more insane than the other two we already have and is shunned by the rest of the country

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

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:18AM (#40296805)
    Palin's purpose wasn't to win voters, it was to energise the base. The social conservatives supported McCain before, but only on the grounds that he wasn't a democrat. He wasn't one of them, and they knew it. He'd get their votes, but lackluster support doesn't bring donations, or efforts to drive supporters to the polls, or grassroots campaigning. So he picked someone who was very much one of them as VP - an outspoken, open Christian with intense and proven pro-life views and a proudly displayed dislike of intellectuallism. It worked, winning over their support, he just underestimated how much she would terrify more moderate voters.
  • by guises (2423402) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @11:21AM (#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.
  • Re:Both Ways (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tbannist (230135) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @12:07PM (#40297681)

    I think Obama is one of the most left leaning, divisive and ideological people I've ever seen in power in the US, much less in the presidency. I think he is so very stuck to his ideals based agenda, that he cannot truly compromise or even see when things he tries and supports just do not work. I think he is so bent on going with fundamentally changing the US, its principals...etc...that he wants to keep pushing it even to the detriment of our country and its people.

    What has Obama done that's "left-wing"? "Obama's health care plan" is essentially the same as the one implement by Mitt Romney and suggested nationally by Bob Dole. He rescued the auto-sector, and they needed a rescue because banks were refusing to lend money to them at any price. Frankly, I suspect most Republicans would have done the same thing. Canada's conservative government did.

    In the US, Obama's about the most left leaning, liberal, progressive person we've ever seen rise to such a high office. Many people seem to be shocked....but he was honest about it, and in his writings, actions and own words...he has shown what he stands for, but people didn't see it during election time.

    Really? Obama is more "left leaning, liberal, progressive" than Franklin D. Roosevelt [wikipedia.org]? Are you really sure you're not just repeating what you heard on Fox News?

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

    by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday June 12, 2012 @02:27PM (#40299645)

    In the US, Obama's about the most left leaning, liberal, progressive person we've ever seen rise to such a high office. Many people seem to be shocked....but he was honest about it, and in his writings, actions and own words...he has shown what he stands for, but people didn't see it during election time.

    Oh please. Obama is the biggest hypocrite we've ever elected.

    He promised more open, transparent government. He denied more FOIA requests than Bush, by orders of magnitude. And the token White House Petition website is basically just another way for him to shout about how right he is and how he totally agrees with you, while only rarely being able to back that up with actual actions he's done.

    He promised to improve America's standing in the world, make countries actually like us again. And he gave us more of what Bush did - ramped up drone killings, invaded Pakistan, and odds are we'll be at war with Iran by Election Day, the way things are going.

    He promised healthcare reform. We ended up with a compromise that took the worst of private health insurance and the worst of socialized healthcare, none of the benefits of either, and topped it off with some rather superficial reforms.

    Just about the only thing he's done *anything* on was gay rights, and that boiled down to "repealing DADT" and *accidentally* endorsing gay marriage. Gitmo hasn't been shut down. He hasn't ended the War on Drugs. He hasn't fixed the economy. He's actually *increased* the Federal deficit.

    He promised us hope. And now, we don't even have that.

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