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Race in the 2012 US Presidential Election: Demographics and ‘Dog Whistles’
- Ben Karp
- Gerald D. Jaynes
- Zeke Miller
A dog whistle cannot be heard by the human ear but calls every hound in the neighborhood running. In politics this term refers to language spoken by a politician that will be heard as normal and appropriate by all but a select audience who can detect a specific, often racial, agenda.
In becoming the first black president of the United States, Barack Obama symbolized for most of his country and much of the world an end to the traditional prejudices which had segregated society since its founding. But is Obama really a “post racial” president as he promised and as was expected by his supporters? Has racism disappeared as a driving factor in how large groups of Americans vote? Are there already racial messages embedded in the opposition to President Obama’s re-election?
This discussion will examine the overt (demographics and voting patterns) and subtle aspects of race that may shape the tone of 2012 election and indeed determine its outcome.