Presidential Race Maps Writing on the Wall

Republicans Could Have Serious Problem Come November

Posted May 25, 2010 at 1:25 AM by Maurice Berger

Before Republicans start celebrating what some predict may be a massive victory in November, they may want to take notice of one sobering phenomenon: In Colorado and Arizona, Public Policy Polling reports that Hispanic voters are now swinging dramatically towards Democrats in the wake of Arizona's new immigration law. PPP continues: "Hispanics in the Mountain West are leaning much more strongly toward the Democrats since the Arizona law was passed. The big question then becomes whether there are white voters who are going to go Republican this fall who wouldn't have if that bill hadn't been passed. We don't see any evidence of that happening yet." This trend could easily shift into other states with significant Hispanic populations, effecting very close race in states as disparate as California, Ohio, and Florida, not to mention Colorado and Arizona. Stay tuned. This could be the sleeper phenomenon of the 2010 cycle.

Most Americans Do Not See Improvement in US Race Relations

Posted Nov 12, 2009 at 1:10 AM by Maurice Berger

With Barack Obama's historic election in November 2008, a hefty majority of Americans expected race relations to improve in the United States. A year later, "the high hopes Americans had for race relations . . . have yet to be fully realized," according to a new Gallup survey. "Currently, 41% of Americans believe race relations have gotten better since Obama's win; another 35% think they have not changed, while 22% say they have gotten worse. Last November, 70% thought race relations would improve as a result of the landmark outcome."

Enormous Racial Divide On Issue Of Obama's Handing Of Gates Question

Posted Jul 27, 2009 at 2:00 AM by Maurice Berger


The only poll thus far on the question of how President Obama handled the issue of the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr indicates an enormous racial divide in the public's assessement. While an 46% of Americans rate the president’s response as poor, only 26% of voters nationwide say President Obama did a good or excellent job answering a press conference question about the incident involving a white Cambridge, Massachusetts policeman and a black Harvard professor. Yet, beneath the "top line numbers is a huge gap between the way that white and black Americans view the situation . . . 71% of African-Americans say the president’s response was good or excellent, a view shared by just 22% of white Americans. At the other extreme, 53% of white voters gave the president’s response a poor grade. 5% of black Americans offered such a negative response."

African Americans Say Race Relations No Better With Obama

Posted Jun 29, 2009 at 2:09 AM by Maurice Berger

A majority of African Americans believe that race relations have not improved with the election of President Obama, according to a new CNN/Essence/Opinion Research Corporation poll: "African-Americans really like President Obama, but more and more feel that race relations have not gotten better since he took office, a new national poll found. 96% of African-Americans approve of how Obama is handling his presidency . . . During the 2008 election, 38 percent of blacks surveyed thought racial discrimination was a serious problem. In the new survey, 55 percent of blacks surveyed believed it was a serious problem, which is about the same level as it was in 2000."

Half of Americans Think Election Of Barack Obama Will Improve Race Relations

Posted Jan 22, 2009 at 4:11 AM by Maurice Berger

Nearly half of Americans in a new poll believe that the election of Barack Obama as the nation's first black president will inevitably improve race relations: "48% believe his inauguration signals the start of a new era of race relations in the United States. 32% disagree, while another 21% are undecided . . . African-Americans are much more convinced than white Americans that Obama’s inauguration will change race relations. Three out of four blacks (75%) say this will be the case, compared to just 43% of whites. Over a third of whites (35%) do not believe this to be true, compared to just 19% of blacks. Over a quarter of adults (26%) say they are very hopeful that the start of Obama’s administration will lead to a quick turnaround for America, and another third (34%) are somewhat hopeful. Only 15% say they are not at all hopeful for a rapid improvement and 22% say they are not very hopeful"

Gallup: Race A Neutral Factor In This Election?

Posted Oct 10, 2008 at 1:46 AM by Maurice Berger

In what may rank as one of the odder observations by a pollster in this cycle, Gallup reports the following: "While 6% of voters say they are less likely to vote for Barack Obama because of his race, 9% say they are more likely to vote for him, making the impact of his race a neutral to slightly positive factor when all voters' self-reported attitudes are taken into account." Polltrack would like to know: since when do people "self-report" racial prejudice, something implied in an affirmative answer to Gallup's question? While race and racism may not determine the outcome of this election, Gallup's conclusion, that racial prejudice does not appear to hurt Obama, disregards the unconscious and complex nature of our attitudes about race--the anxiety, ambivalence, and confusion that inflects our view of racial difference. (Indeed, scores of studies have examined the psycho-social impulse to conceal from public view racial anxiety or animus.) This is why PollTrack continually cautions against interpreting public opinion through pure numbers or numerical formulas. What sometimes gets left out in pollster's findings is the gray area that makes public opinion fluid, nuanced, and sometimes hard to pin down.

Bush Approval At All-Time Low: How Will This Effect Election 2008?

Posted Oct 01, 2008 at 1:17 AM by Maurice Berger

President Bush's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low, according to Gallup: "Before the U.S. House of Representatives voted down a proposed financial rescue plan endorsed by the Bush administration, just 27% of Americans said they approved of the job George W. Bush is doing as president, the lowest of his presidency and already down 4 points since the financial crisis intensified." To what extent, PollTrack wonders, is this decline, coupled with the voters' tendency in recent surveys to blame Republicans in general for the present economic crisis, contributing to McCain's declining polling numbers? Over the next month, will it be possible for McCain to transcend the negative standing of his party? Is his fate inexorably linked to the success or failure--or the public perception thereof--of the bailout package and its economic aftermath? Interestingly, while McCain's numbers have drawn back to pre-convention levels--and Obama's are up accordingly--the Democrat still does not break the 50% mark in most national polls. PollTrack observes that there remains a undertow of resistance to Obama in the electorate at large. This inability to seal the deal with the American voter may be due to a number of factors--including uncertainty about the candidate's experience, his inability to lock up support from working class and so-called Reagan Democrats (thus, McCain's leads in OH, TN, WV, and KY) and die hard Hillary Clinton supporters, overt or unconscious racism, or the perception that the Democrat is somehow "foreign" or "out of touch" with middle American values. Will the nation's economic implosion help Obama to seal the deal or will McCain retake the momentum?

Obama And The Race Factor: Is This Why It's So Close?

Posted Sep 21, 2008 at 11:56 AM by Maurice Berger

Extrapolating from a series of questions it asked voters to gauge their racial attitudes, a new poll released yesterday reports that support for Obama "would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice." In other words, Obama would be 6% to 8% ahead of McCain right now if racism were not a factor in this election. According to the the survey--conducted by AP-Yahoo in association with Stanford University--"the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points." The survey is based, in part, on the following finding: "40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents." The poll's finding may help explain the closeness of the presidential contest at a time when the Republican brand is weak.

The State Of The Race: 45 Days To Go

Posted Sep 19, 2008 at 1:33 AM by Maurice Berger

Yesterday, a rush of statewide surveys resulted in a changed Today's Map. What are the implications of Indiana going from red to gray, Minnesota from blue to gray? One important observation: it looks like the national divisions of 2000 and 2004 are still around. With the exception of usually true-red Indiana (PollTrack still believes the state will eventually trend back to the Republicans), the same swing states are drawning down to a tie. (And, yes, despite the fact that no Democrat has won the state's electoral votes since LBJ in 1964, Virginia is now a swing state: it has actually grown bluer in recent years. Consider the 2006 senate race, where Democrat James Webb defeated Republican George Allen by a mere 8,000 votes.) PollTrack suspects that these divisions may be sharpened by the relative strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates. McCain has been able to solidify the Republican base, take the lion's share of the very dependable (re: voter turnout) 65+ demographic, and appeal to independents. Obama does well with urban voters, young people, African-Americans, and Hispanic voters. The problem for both: they each appeal to the same constituent demographics as Gore and Bush, Bush and Kerry, leaving a slim pool of swing voters (married suburban women, for example) to essentially break the tie. PollTrack suggests that other factors--preeminently Obama's race, women disaffected by the Obama campaign's handling of Hillary Clinton, McCain's age, and Palin's  religious conservatism--are making it difficult for either candidate to eat into the other's base or to pick off large segments of independent and unaffiliated voters.

Tightening Race: "Crisis" Management?

Posted Aug 13, 2008 at 6:43 AM by Maurice Berger

As if to underscore the closeness of the national race, a new Pew Research poll, suggests that Obama's national lead over McCain has disappeared. The race is now a statistical tie, with Obama barely edging McCain, 46% to 43%, down from the eight point lead held by Obama in June and a result consistent with most other national polls. According to Pew, the Republican base is getting behind McCain. Another key finding: McCain rates considerably higher than Obama on the question of leadership: In contrast to June polling, "An even greater percentage of voters . . . now see McCain as the candidate who would use the best judgment in a crisis, and an increasing percentage see him as the candidate who can get things done."

The aspect of voter response concerning "crisis management"--in a survey taken over the past few days--begs the following question: Is the military conflagration between Russia and Georgia making voters nervous, and thus less likely to take a chance on a younger candidate with relatively little military and foreign policy experience? Is the McCain campaign's effort to paint Obama as a self-involved "celebrity" contributing to voter perceptions of McCain as the more serious candidate, better able to handle a crisis? To what extend does Obama's race and the perception advanced by some of his critics that he is "different" or even un-American play into voter anxieties about him? Will McCain's recent gaffes and misstatements ultimately undermine his message of stability, good judgment, and leadership?