Obama & Race-Based Voting: Exit Poll Data
by VAAlex, Fri May 16, 2008 at 11:24:48 AM EDT
I wanted to roughly analyze whether racism has been/will be an issue in the fall election. So I combed through CNN's exit polls, and pulled the following data for the question "Is race an important factor in your vote?" Note that this includes "Yes most important factor" and "One of several factors" together. Below is all the states for which the question was asked. I should also note that this obviously is data pulled from the Democratic primary. A general election universe of voters would obviously be more conservative.
The first column lists the state, the second the % of exit poll respondents who considered race important in their voting decision, and the third the % of voters who subsequently voted for Clinton (as in, this hurt Obama).
So, what did I find? It's easier to look at the states in groupings:
Race probably helped more than it hurt
Alabama / 29 / 35
Delaware / 18 / 28
Georgia / 21 / 24
Illinois / 23 / 28
Louisiana / 25 / 38
Mississippi / 31 / 36
North Carolina / 18 / 35
Race probably helped as much as it hurt
Connecticut / 15 / 41
Vermont / 13 / 42
Indiana / 16 / 47
Massachusetts / 16 / 51
Missouri / 19 / 46
New Jersey / 19 / 47
Tennessee / 21 / 52
Texas / 19 / 52
Wisconsin / 13 / 46
Race probably hurt more than it helped
Arizona / 14 / 56
Arkansas / 18 / 68
California / 17 / 61
New Mexico / 14 / 59
New York / 18 / 56
Ohio / 20 / 59
Oklahoma / 20 / 64
Pennsylvania / 19 / 59
Rhode Island / 18 / 65
West Virginia / 22 / 82 (!)
A couple of things to keep in mind:
1 - This is a cross-sample of states based only on CNN's exit polls, does not include caucus states since they do not do exit polling, and excludes Utah since only 9% considered race an important issue (no meaningful numbers could be extrapolated from that).
2 - Generally, it seems, race helps Obama in states with large African American populations. As with where it hurts, it seems that there's no easy answer.
So having seen these numbers, what do you think? Should only the percentage who said it was important matter, or should we also look at the percentage who said it was important and also voted for Clinton? Clearly, it's a non-insignificant issue; the average % who say they mattered was roughly 18-20%.
Exit poll data taken from http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/.