Barack Obama became America’s first black President in 2008, but Republicans tried to prevent that from happening by using racism to their advantage. A new study published in Public Opinion Quarterly revealed that Republican attack ads during the 2008 election made Obama’s skin appear darker that it really was. Science has already shown that African Americans with darker skin evokes stronger racial prejudice so these attack ads were exploiting racist tendencies of the American people. Below is one Republican attack ad shown during the 2008 election:
Analyzing 126 advertisements from the presidential campaign in 2008, the authors first digitally measured the darkness of the two nominees’ skin in each spot, then sorted the ads into categories based on themes. President Obama and his opponent, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), looked very different in various advertisements depending on how the footage was edited and produced.
That was particularly the case in negative advertisements, in which each campaign manipulated the images of its opponent to shadow or wash out his face for dramatic effect.
Interestingly, though, when McCain’s campaign aired spots that connected Obama with alleged criminal activity by liberal groups, the producers almost always used images that made Obama’s skin appear very dark.
White Republicans do have stronger racial biases then White Democrats, but it’s important to note that the difference isn’t actually that strong. Campaigns running attack ads is nothing new, but it’s sad to see that America’s racism is strong enough to be exploited for political gain.
Featured image from John McCain youtube screen grab