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78% Say Politicians Play ‘Race Card’ Just to Get Elected

Monday, November 03, 2014

Voters, regardless of race, agree that most politicians play the so-called “race card” just to pick up votes. Still, blacks strongly believe that those who oppose President Obama are racist.

Just nine percent (9%) of Likely U.S. Voters think most politicians raise racial issues to address real problems, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Seventy-eight percent (78%) say they bring up race just to get elected. Thirteen percent (13%) aren’t sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

There is surprising racial agreement. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of blacks agree with 79% of whites and 81% of other minority voters that most politicians raise racial issues just to get reelected.

These findings are similar to those regarding another common political charge these days, that some candidates are engaging in a “war on women.” But 59% of voters say the “war on women” is primarily a slogan used for political purposes. Only 22% believe there really is a political “war on women” going on.

When it comes to the specifics of the president, however, a racial divide is evident. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of black voters believe those who oppose Obama’s policies do so because of racism. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of whites and 56% of other minority voters think instead that opposition is primarily because they believe the president’s policies are bad.

Among all voters, 59% think people who oppose Obama’s policies do so because they don’t like those policies. Thirty-one percent (31%) believe their opposition is due to racism, but that’s up from 28% in mid-July and up 13 points from 18% in October 2011.

Only 41% of voters say racial issues are at least somewhat important to their vote. Fifty-five percent (55%) say race is not important to how they vote. This includes 21% who say racial issues are Very Important and 29% who consider them Not At All Important.

Thirty-eight percent (38%) think political candidates discuss race too much, while 21% say they talk about it too little. Twenty-eight percent (28%) believe the level of discussion is about right. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on October 31-November 1, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Going into Election Day, white voters are nearly twice as likely as blacks to believe America is a more divided nation than it was four years ago. For one-in-three of all voters, the president is what this election is all about.

Only 27% say it would help political candidates in their state if the president came to campaign for them, while 39% think a presidential visit would hurt the candidates instead. Just 22% say Obama’s presidency has been a success.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of voters say they have been following recent news reports about the upcoming midterm elections, with 46% who have been following Very Closely.

Most Democrats (55%) think opposition to the president’s policies is due to racism. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of Republicans and 66% of voters not affiliated with either major party say opponents believe Obama’s policies are bad.

In the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll, the majority of voters in his own party approve of the job Obama is doing, while most GOP voters and unaffiliateds disapprove. 

Voters across the partisan board, however, agree that most politicians raise racial issues just to get reelected, although Democrats don’t believe that as strongly as the others do.

Fifty-seven percent (57%) of Republicans think political candidate discuss racial issues too much, but that view is shared by only 19% of Democrats and 39% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Fifty-three percent (53%) of blacks feel that political candidates discuss racial issues too little in their campaigns, but just 14% of whites and 30% of other minorities agree.

But then 79% of black voters say racial issues are important to their vote, as do 51% of other minority voters. For 66% of whites, however, racial issues are not important to their voting decisions.

Women and those under 40 attach slightly more importance to racial issues than men and older voters do.

Only 34% of all Americans now rate race relations in the United States as good or excellent. Just 31% think those relations are getting better. 

Sixteen percent (16%) of voters think life for young black Americans has gotten better since Obama’s election in November 2008, but 22% believe it’s gotten worse.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.

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