Gainesville (Florida, US), Sept.14 (ANI): A new University of Florida (UF) study has found over six in ten white Florida voters inspired by and proud of the presidential candidacy of a black man, despite the presence of lingering racism.
According to two UF political scientists, results from four statewide telephone surveys-each involving between 449 and 829 respondents - conducted in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009, show most Floridans quite happy to have President Barack Obama in the White House.
Their study was published in the August issue of the electronic journal The Forum.
"We didn't see a lot of evidence that race was paramount in the way people thought about Obama," said Michael Martinez, a University of Florida political science professor who carried out the study with fellow political scientist Stephen Craig.
"In fact, quite a number of white Floridians - both those who are Republicans and those who are Democrats - took pride in a black man being able to secure the nomination and win the election," he added.
They estimated that two-thirds of white non-Hispanic Floridians surveyed - 65 percent - were "proud or inspired" by a black candidate's ability to win his party's nomination for president.
While that sentiment was nearly universal among those who preferred Obama - 89 percent - it was also shared by a substantial number of McCain supporters, 47 percent.
"I was surprised by the magnitude of the pride factor and that it extended into the McCain camp at a time when there were plenty of hard feelings on both sides," Craig said.
Despite these positive feelings, the study found that racism persists.
An estimated one-third of the respondents - 34 percent - were upset by "blacks pushing themselves where they are not wanted," said a statement used in the survey to assess racist sentiment.
Part of the reason that race did not emerge as a major issue in the election may stem from Obama's biracial background and his efforts not to call attention to his blackness, Martinez said.
Perhaps more important than Obama's image is the growing partisan nature of American politics and tendency for voters to see the last presidential election as a referendum on the Bush administration, illustrated by the Obama campaign's twin mantras of "change" and "no third term," he said.
"Many people judge political candidates by the state of the economy," Martinez said. (ANI)