Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America

Obama’s Race: The 2008 Election and the Dream of a Post-Racial America

University of Chicago Press
208 pages
37 line drawings, 7 tables
6 x 9
Cloth ISBN: 9780226793825; Paperback ISBN: 9780226793832; E-Book ISBN: 9780226793849

Michael Tesler, Doctoral Student in Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

David O. Sears, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Political Science
University of California, Los Angeles

Barack Obama’s presidential victory naturally led people to believe that the United States might finally be moving into a post-racial era. Obama’s Race—and its eye-opening account of the role played by race in the election—paints a dramatically different picture.

The authors argue that the 2008 election was more polarized by racial attitudes than any other presidential election on record—and perhaps more significantly, that there were two sides to this racialization: resentful opposition to and racially liberal support for Obama. As Obama’s campaign was given a boost in the primaries from racial liberals that extended well beyond that usually offered to ideologically similar white candidates, Hillary Clinton lost much of her longstanding support and instead became the preferred candidate of Democratic racial conservatives. Time and again, voters’ racial predispositions trumped their ideological preferences as John McCain—seldom described as conservative in matters of race—became the darling of racial conservatives from both parties. Hard-hitting and sure to be controversial, Obama’s Race will be both praised and criticized—but certainly not ignored.


  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Obama as Post-Racial?
  • Chapter 1: Background: Race in Presidential Elections
  • Chapter 2: Racialized Momentum: The Two Sides of Racialization in the Primaries
  • Chapter 3: The General Election: The Two Sides of Racialization and Short-Term Political Dynamics
  • Chapter 4: The Spillover of Racialization
  • Chapter 5: The Racialized Voting Patterns of Racial and Ethnic Minorities
  • Chapter 6: The Paradox of Gender Traditionalists’ Support for Hillary Clinton
  • Chapter 7: Beyond Black and White: Obama as “Other”
  • Chapter 8: Is the Obama Presidency Post-Racial? Evidence from His First Year in Office
  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index
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