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44 ★ Patrick R. Cotter Table 3.3 Alabama Exit Poll Results for the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 Presidential Elections (in percent) 2008 2004 2000 1996 (N=1,070) (N=736) (N=831) (N=1044) Obama McCain Kerry Bush Gore Bush Clinton Dole All voters 39% 60 37% 62 42% 56 43% 50 Race White 10 88 19 80 25 73 29 62 African American 98 2 91 8 91 8 87 11 Gender Male 36 62 30 69 36 62 37 53 Female 42 58 43 57 47 52 46 48 Income Less than $15,000 na na 58 42 72 27 57 35 $15–30,000 53 46 47 52 53 45 43 49 $30–50,000 40 58 46 52 50 50 42 51 $50–75,000 41 57 22 78 31 66 38 56 $75–100,000 29 70 22 78 23 74 na na Religion— Conservative Protestant* Yes 8 92 12 88 18 82 na na No 64 34 42 56 52 46 na na Party identification Democrat 85 14 92 7 85 14 85 10 Independent 33 64 29 66 30 66 29 57 Republican 3 97 1 99 2 98 3 90 Note: Vote percentage for third-party candidates not shown. na = Data not available. * The 2004 and 2008 surveys asked respondents if they identified themselves as “white/evangelical/born-again.” The 2000 survey asked respondents if they considered themselves a member of the “White religious right.” Source: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results. supported Obama. This polling estimate may yet prove to be too low.25 Still it is certainly true that a large majority of white Alabama voters did not support the Democratic candidate. This racial unity suggests, in turn, that racial concerns played an important role in the 2008 voting decision. Second, it is possible to compare the exit poll results for Alabama with those for the entire nation (Table 3.4). This comparison shows little difference in voting patterns between Alabama and the nation in terms of evaluations of President Bush, religious identification, or party identification . Also, African Americans in Alabama and the nation were both almost unanimous in their support for Obama. White voters in Alabama, however, were substantially less likely to vote for Obama than were their counterparts elsewhere. Further, examining the influence of party identification among whites shows that Republicans and independents in Alabama voted in the presidential election in a manner similar to their counterparts nationwide. White Democrats in Alabama, however, were much less likely to support Obama than were their fellow party identifiers elsewhere. Given the history of the state, it is reasonable to conclude that the distinctive voting behavior in 2008 of white Alabamians generally, and white Alabama Democrats in particular, was strongly affected by racial concerns. Other pieces of evidence, however, suggest that Obama’s lack of success in Alabama may be the result of other considerations. Specifically, comparisons of exit poll findings for the last several presidential elections (Table 3.3) show that white support for Democratic candidates has declined since at least 1996. This long-term change makes it difficult to attribute the low level of white support in 2008 solely to Obama’s race. Similarly, county level results (Table 3.2) show declining support over several election cycles for Democrats in more “white” parts of the state. Again, since this decline did not begin with the Obama candidacy, it is difficult to conclude that the lack of Democratic support in 2008 is due primarily to race. Finally, and perhaps most persuasively, in the state’s congressional election, Democratic candidates running as social conservatives were successful . These results support a conclusion that issue positions, rather than the race of the candidate, were the critical factor in affecting the 2008 vote. Luckily, perhaps, Alabama may soon provide another test case for determining which of the two proposed explanations best applies to the state’s contemporary electoral politics. African American congressman Artur Davis has made it clear that he intends to run for a statewide office, Alabama ★ 45 46 ★ Patrick R. Cotter Table 3.4 Exit Poll Results for the 2008 Presidential Election—Alabama and the United States (in percent) ALABAMA UNITED STATES (N=1067) (N=17,836) Obama McCain Obama McCain Race White 10 88 43 55 Black 98 2 95 4 Race and gender White Male 9 88 41 57 White Female 12 88 46 53 Black Male 100 0 95 5 Black Female 96 4 96 3 Party...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781610750035
Related ISBN
9781557289155
MARC Record
OCLC
769114785
Pages
360
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-11
Language
English
Open Access
No
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