Stage Two: Racialized Attacks on Senator Obama Pay Off

It took only four or so days for two-thirds of Americans, according to a recent Rasmussen national phone poll of 1,200 “likely voters,” to hear about Dr. Jeremiah Wright’s strong remarks about U.S. racism and imperialism, which were expressed in just a few seconds of selected sermons he has given now over three decades.* A clear majority of those surveyed reported they now have a negative view of Dr. Wright. Moreover,

Seventy-three percent (73%) of voters say that Wright’s comments are racially divisive. That opinion is held by 77% of White voters and 58% of African-American voters.

There is no surprise here. This sounds like a rhetorical question. Such question wording is clearly from the white racial frame, for those targeted by the racial hostility and discrimination that Dr. Wright and other black ministers regularly condemn might well have asked rather different questions of at least the African American voters, like “Is Dr. Wright correct about racism?” “Have you faced discrimination recently at the hands of whites?” “If so, what, where, and how often,” and so on.

The Rasmussen report then adds some very troubling data:

Most voters, 56%, said Wright’s comments made them less likely to vote for Obama. That figure includes 44% of Democrats. . . . However, among African-Americans, 29% said Wright’s comments made them more likely to support Obama. Just 18% said the opposite while 50% said Wright’s comments would have no impact.

There is no report of white percentages separately, but probably some six in ten white voters are now less inclined to vote for Senator Obama after just a few days of biased media snippets, and not about what he said or did, but about what his minister said. This bodes ill for his future primary campaigns and, if he is the Democratic candidate, for his contest with Senator McCain in the fall.


It did not take much to accelerate or accentuate a strong white racial framing of Senator Obama, who until now has apparently been seen by a majority of whites (likely including many who have voted for him) as an “exception to his race” or as “non-racial.”

Evidently, the mainstream media’s management has had the desired impact with their third-rate and decontextualized journalism. They appear to have started a movement of voters away from Senator Obama.


Notice the major bias in these journalistic reports on Dr. Wright’s sermons. So far as I have seen, the mainstream media have only reported on about .002 percent of the total minutes of all the sermons that Dr. Wright has presented in his many years at the Trinity United Church of Christ. I wonder what he said the other 99.998 percent of the time?


*(Note: The margin of sampling error for this poll was +/- 2.5 percentage points, at a 95% confidence level.)


  1. GDAWG

    I am not surprised by the apparent rejection of OB by the majority population (Euro-ethnic) as it relates to his minister. For most of these folks, in my opinion, were practicing a sort of mental masturbation that could temporarily assuage their cultural / racial bias and make them selves feel good so to speak. You can be certain that McCain ‘s supports will not jettison him because the anti-catholic ranting of Hagee, and the animus of Parsley. Moreover, in light of the troubling economic circumstances that are about to be unleashed on our country, this problem should fall on Billary or McCain shoulders since they are in part responsible for the policies whether they are from the heritage foundation or the DLC Those two should weather this storm or bear the brunt of the fallout from this mess. For if OB is not “Superman- like” as is the case often for Blacks in responsible positions, if he is elected, he will surely be blamed for not solving the problem quickly enough, and potentially set back presidential politics for African Americans for a long time. Hmmmm? I dunno.

  2. Seattle in Texas

    All great points and GDAWG so true, so true about the unrealistic expectations that will be placed on him if he does become our next Commander and Chief—however, of all presidential candidates perhaps in this nations history, the one that genuinely and humbly emphasizes humility and his own nature as a human being, is Barack—he is only human, though special indeed. I don’t think the disappointments will come from his supporters so much as I think the criticisms, discouragement, and mocking will come from the other parties and supporters.

    But, to bring for a different perspective—since the attack he has lost no delegates and since his speech yesterday, it is important to note he won three more delegates who were previously undecided (heh, every single one counts) and Hillary’s count has stayed the same. All of the supporters I know including myself, we’ve been waiting for this and actually worse—so it was anticipated and hasn’t impacted our stances. He’s got strong supporters and has brought in many people to vote who either were registered but haven’t voted because they felt it wasn’t worth it (their votes and voices wouldn’t be hear or count) and people to register and actually carry through with voting. I personally have much confidence in his supporters (they/we are not dumb). And we are all still working in various ways to strengthen his campaign and will continue to do so, despite the media, etc.—we’re all braced for it—keep the chins up guys! 😉

  3. JDF

    Though I think Obama has likely put the Dr. Wright controversy behind him for the primary season, he does face one problem in his quest to be the nominee: that only primaries are left on the schedule. One of the important things I’ve noticed about this race between Obama and Clinton has been the disparities between the caucus and primary contests; i.e., the pattern of Obama winning, even by hefty margins, in the caucuses and losing in primaries (to date, Clinton’s biggest victories have been in primary states like Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Ohio). One blog at realclearpolitics noticed how Obama appears to be doing well in racially homogeneous states, such as South Carolina (55% African American), and Idaho (overwhelmingly white). I would add that South Carolina was a racially heterogeneous election, although Obama’s percentage of whites according to exit polling (24%) did not improve much in Mississippi (26% overall and only 23% of white Democrats), with the former a three-way race in which Edwards won the white vote. The discussion of the “Bradley Effect” occurred immediately following Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire, after polling has shown Obama with, in some cases, even a comfortable lead. This primary race was just five days following Obama’s historic victory in the Iowa caucuses. When attempting to explain this disparity, some have suggested that activists play a critical role in getting out the vote for the caucuses. Second, some pointed to the fact that when, following the disappointing loss in Iowa and preparing for Super Tuesday, the Clinton campaign skipped the “fly over” states like Utah and Idaho, thus explaining Obama’s huge victories there. These arguments, however, don’t seem to hold water: despite her primary victories in Ohio and Texas and actively campaigning in Wyoming, she lost the caucuses there by a 3 to 2 margin. I think that at least one factor that requires attention is the Bradley Effect, or at least a version of it: that white voters in caucuses are less likely to waver when voting publicly in a caucus as opposed to voting behind the curtain in a primary. New Hampshire is likely an exceptional example, since they voted so early, but there does appear to be a pattern unfolding that once Obama seems to be wrapping up the election that white voters get nervous and deliver her needed victories. In regards to upcoming races, Pennsylvania could be interesting due to the demographic changes there, as we have seen make a difference in states like Virginia (e.g., Pittsburgh is no longer the mill town it once was). The key factor for Obama is to maintain his core support while impressing super delegates, and Richardson’s endorsement is likely an indication of their response to such an impressive speech. Despite some troubling numbers in recent polls, Obama’s numbers have not crashed among his core supporters, whether among African Americans, young voters, activists, or college graduates. As the polling continues, one number to watch is Latino support for Obama, in which the gap may be narrowing.

  4. Joe Author

    Yes, Latino voters are a key. Democratic party candidates since LBJ generally have not gotten more than 43 percent of the white vote. If that white percentage drops for a candidate Obama, as it likely will, then he has only Latinos and Asian voters to pick up the loss. That means a significant shift in Latino votes to the Democratic Party.

    And the Wright story will come back. There will be no end to it.


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