Donald Kinder, a professor of political science at the University of Michigan, compared the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections at the Department of Political Science’s event Wednesday morning in the Von KleinSmid Center. Kinder highlighted race as the primary driving force of former president Barack Obama’s election in 2008 and reelection in 2012.
Kinder emphasized five indicators of the weight of race in the elections: racial divide in vote, race and turnout, prejudice and white vote, racial solidarity and black vote and racial polarization of the party system.
According to Kinder, the 2008 elections generated a racial divide in America as Obama received 95 percent of the African American votes and 44 percent of the white votes. Kinder mentioned that it was expected that the racial divide in 2012 elections might narrow compared to the 2008 elections, but it didn’t happen.
“Some blacks might have decided that Obama was not the president they had hoped for,” Kinder said. “Some whites might have come to the conclusion that Obama was not the radical race man they had feared. Evidently not. The difference here  is within a hair of the difference in 2008.”
Black voter turnout in 2012 was lower than in 2008, as was the white vote, Kinder added.
Prejudice in the white vote played an important role in 2008 elections, according to various researchers.
“Obama paid a political price for his racial identity in 2008 among whites,” Kinder said. “He lost [the] support of racially conservative and racially resentful white voters that a typical white democratic candidate would have expected to win.”
According to Kinder, researchers predicted that race would play a smaller role in election results in 2012 compared to 2008. Kinder also concluded that Obama’s rise to presidency had no impact at all on racial prejudice.
Kinder observed that there was no evidence that racial group solidarity diminished from 2008 to 2012. Kinder also mentioned that racial group solidarity caused a major number of African Americans to vote for Obama in both the elections.
Skylar Freels, a sophomore majoring in political science and philosophy, felt that racial prejudice is still a major factor in politics.
“I learned kind of unfortunately that racial prejudice is still definitely a massive influence in politics,” Freels said. “The 2012 election was the most polarized around race that we have ever seen. So that’s bad.”
Kinder noted that given recent events, race will continue to play a role in politics.
“Race and politics seem as entangled as ever and going forward, that seems to be the likely case for some time to come,” Kinder said.
Correction: The headline for this article previously stated that Donald Kinder was a USC professor. He is a professor from the University of Michigan. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.