ABC News says there’s a “dirty little secret” — that although 84% say it doesn’t make any difference to them if a candidate is black, the privacy of the voting booth hides a different tale:
While a recent ABC News poll indicates that 84 percent of Americans say a candidate being black would not affect their vote, the dirty little secret is what some pollsters and consultants call “the 15 percent lie” — the supposed percentage of whites who tell pollsters they would be willing to vote for a black candidate but in the privacy of the voting booth never actually would.
Bad news for Michael S. Steele, the leading Maryland Republican candidate for Senate in November: The scuttling noise he hears on Election Day could be the sound of tens of thousands of white Republicans crossing over to vote for the Democrat.
In fact, white Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black, says economist Ebonya Washington of Yale University in a forthcoming article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. White independents are similarly inclined to vote for the white Democrat when there’s a black Republican running, according to her study of congressional and gubernatorial voting patterns between 1982 and 2000, including five Senate races in which the Republican nominee was black.
Americans (and particularly white Americans), would like to think we’re past this kind of foolishness, but while both of these articles indicate that we’re not, David Weigel argues at Reason that at least some of this is a myth:
But the opinion’s getting around because of that “15 percent lie” idea that Tapper cites. This is a figure that might have been a little true 15, 20 years ago, but it’s turned into a psuedo-fact.
He cites a number of races where the outcome did not support this at all, saying it’s time to “bury the ‘Wilder effect’; it’s a junk theory”.
So which is it? Does some proportion still vote by race?
If the comments that came into my post last year are any indication, the answer has to be of course they do. Then again, I’m not living in the most socially evolved part of the country, either… and I believe that matters.
Is (white) America getting any better at seeing past race or ethnicity? Probably. Are we out of the woods yet?