In what must come as the shocking revelations to most African Americans, a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center determined that a majority of Americans say President Obama is not black. In two Presidential Elections, President Obama outpolled his opponents on average, 94% to 4%. To be fair, Democrats traditionally maintain an advantage over Republicans with the black electorate. Still, 4%, which is the number that both Senator McCain and Governor Romney polled in their respective elections against Mr. Obama, must be considered a low, if not paltry total.
Then Senator Obama captured 95% of the black vote in 2008 to Senator John McCain’s 4%. He also outpolled Senator McCain among Hispanics, 66% to 31%, and held the same margin with voters under the age of 30. He garnered 56% of women voters, and forged a virtual tie with 49% of men. More white men, 41%, voted for Senator Obama than any Democrat since Jimmy Carter. An imposing 71% of first time voters cast their ballot for Mr. Obama, compared to 29% for Mr. McCain. Mr. Obama won the Catholic vote 54% to 46%, won the Asian vote 63% to 34%, and won 78% of the Jewish vote.
Senator Obama won 66% of single voters, he won 51% of married voters, while suburban-rural voters split 50-50. Among high wage earners, those making $200,000 or more in 2007, 53% voted for Mr. Obama. Finally, 85% of Democrats who voted for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, voted for Barack Obama in the general election.
In 2012, President Obama fell off his 2008 pace, but still logged 93% of the black vote. Undoubtedly, the former Illinois Senator’s ability to galvanize support within the African American community in such a way was tied to the perception of its affinity with him.
He also beat Mr. Romney among Hispanics 71% tor 24%, and among Asians, 73% to 22%. He won the age 18-29 years old demographic by 60% to 35%, and won the 30-44 years old age group by 52% to 41%. Among women, he received 55% of the vote, down a percentage point from 2008, while he fell 5 percentage points among men, to 44%. In his second election, President Obama dominated vote totals for Americans who earn under $50,000.
For those who earn less than $30,000 per year, the President led 63% to 31%, and for those earning between $30,000 and $49,000, the President attracted 57% of the vote to Governor Romney’s 39%. Among those earning more than $50,000 per year, President Obama lost by a substantial margin, 42% to 53%. The margin was even greater for those earning more than $100,000 per year, 38% to 54%. These higher income-based results represent a reversal from 2008.
Party loyalty was high, as might be anticipated. Democrats supported the President by a margin of 92% to 4%, while Republicans voted for the Governor 93% to 3%. President Obama ceded Independent voters to Governor Romney, 42% TO 50%.
So, let’s get back to that poll. Slightly more than one quarter, 27% of Americans, say President Obama is black. Contrast this with 52% who say he is mixed race. On some level this newly emerging narrative is surprising, but not on every level. W. E. B. Du Bois noted in his transcendent 1903 treatise, The Souls of Black Folks, “For the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” After more than eleven decades, and significant progress in many arenas and endeavors, his words ring as true today as they did 111 years ago.
Suffice it to say our nation wrestles with issues of race, ethnicity, and culture. During the initial Obama Presidential Campaign in 2008 there was a popular discussion about Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and his election, were it to come to pass. The premise held we were transitioning into a state called post-racial America. The essence of the arguments in support of this mythical universe is that the willingness of our country, burdened by centuries of slave-based guilt, to elect a black man to the highest office in the land would enable us to metamophosize into some idyllic racial space, thus jettisoning said guilt in the process.
The argument was silly and self-serving at the time. Surely, the elevation of one man to a seat of power, even if that seat were considered that of the most powerful man on the planet, could not erase all the slings and arrows absorbed and endured over centuries debasing abuse. It did not.
However, now that history is firmly in the rear view mirror, and President Obama not only not only ran, won and governed, but ran and won a second time, it appears there is an effort to re-write the script. Remember that black guy who became President. Well…”as it turns out, he wasn’t really black after all.” Really?
I don’t pretend to know the motivation of those who constructed the Pew Poll. I do know there is an effort afoot to lessen the impact of the “browning” of America. Categorizing the President, whom by the way self-identifies as black, as mixed race is one of the component steps of that effort.
Technically, mixed race is not a new American concept. At least as far back as the first collaboration between slave master and impregnated slave, there have been mixed race individuals among us. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the children of those unions were called. Just in case, I do, the word-of-the-day was slave.
Among blacks, 55% considered the President black, while only 24% of whites, and 23% of Hispanics did so. The reality is, that’s OK. He has one white parent and one black parent, so he is of mixed race heritage. It just so happens that mixed race and black are not mutually exclusive. That is the central point I wish to underscore before this new narrative gets blown out of proportion.
In summary, you can call him mixed race, or you can call him a Socialist, or you can call him Mr. Obama, or any of a host of other less charitable names often used to refer to him. Moreover, despite the results, “Pew Study: Majority of Americans Say President Obama is Not Black” – for me, he is, and shall ever be, President Obama…and oh yeah, he’s black.
I’m done; holla back!
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