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Obama's Missed Landslide: A Racial Cost?

  • Michael S. Lewis-Beck (a1), Charles Tien (a2) and Richard Nadeau (a3)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 January 2010

Barack Obama was denied a landslide victory in the 2008 presidential election. In the face of economic and political woe without precedent in the post-World War II period, the expectation of an overwhelming win was not unreasonable. He did win, but with just a 52.9 percentage point share of the total popular vote. We argue a landslide was taken from Obama because of race prejudice. In our article, we first quantify the extent of the actual Obama margin. Then we make a case for why it should have been larger. After reviewing evidence of racial bias in voter attitudes and behavior, we conclude that, in a racially blind society, Obama would likely have achieved a landslide.

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Jeffrey Dixon . 2006. “The Ties That Bind and Those That Don't: Toward Reconciling Group Threat and Contact theories of Prejudice.” Social Forces 84: 2179–204.

V.O. Key 1966. The Responsible Electorate: Rationality in Presidential Voting 1936–1960. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press.

Maria Krysan . 1998. “Privacy and the Expression of White Racial Attitudes: A Comparison across Three Contexts.” Public Opinion Quarterly 62: 506–44.

Maria Krysan . 2000. “Prejudice, Politics, and Public Opinion: Understanding the Sources of Racial Policy Attitudes.” Annual Review of Sociology 26: 135–68.

Michael S. Lewis-Beck , William Jacoby , Helmut Norpoth , and Herbert Weisberg . 2008. The American Voter Revisited. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Matthew Streb , Barbara Burrell , Brian Frederick , and Michael A. Genovese . 2008. “Social Desirability Effects and Support for a Female American President.” Public Opinion Quarterly 72: 7689.

Marylee C. Taylor 1998. “How White Attitudes Vary with the Racial Composition of Local Populations: Numbers Count.” American Sociological Review 63: 512–35.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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