Race in the 2012 US Presidential Election: Demographics and ‘Dog Whistles’

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19:30 (Doors open at 19:00)
  • Zeke Miller (BuzzFeed Politics)
  • Gerald D. Jaynes (Professor, Yale University)
  • Ben Karp (ICAS adjunct fellow, historian and scholar of ethnic representation in the U.S. and Japan)
Mita Hall, Temple University, Japan Campus
Kyle Cleveland (ICAS Associate Director)
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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.


Zeke Miller

BuzzFeed Politics

Zeke Miller is the national political reporter for BuzzFeed Politics, the leading social news organization. He extensively covers both President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, as well as national political organizations. A graduate of Yale University with a degree in Political Science, he was an editor of the Yale Daily News. Prior to joining BuzzFeed Politics in January 2012, he held the same position at Business Insider.

Gerald D. Jaynes

Professor, Yale University

Gerald D. Jaynes is professor in the department of Economics and the department of African American Studies at Yale University. Jaynes has served as a legislative aid to State Senator Cecil A. Partee, President Pro-tem of the Illinois State Senate, 1971-72; assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and chaired Yale’s Department of African and African American Studies, 1990-1996. He has served in many public capacities such as Study Director of the Committee On The Status of Black Americans at the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., 1985-89; Chairman of the New Haven, Ct. Minority Business Development Agency by Mayoral appointment, 1982-84; the Mayor’s Blue-Ribbon Committee For the Redevelopment of New Haven, 1990; Member, Board of Economists, Black Enterprise Magazine, Fellow, Joint Center For Political and Economic Studies; Member Council of Economic Advisors to the National Urban League; He has testified before the United States Congress on numerous occasions and served as a consultant to federal and local government agencies. He has appeared on radio and television shows, including The NBC Today Show and The Bill Moyers’ Show. Among his more notable publications are:A Common Destiny: Blacks and American Society, 1989 with Robin M. Williams; Branches Without Roots: Genesis of the Black Working Class in the American South, 1986; Immigration and Race: New Challenges for American Democracy, 2000; The Encyclopedia of African American Society, 2004; The Oxford Handbook of African American Citizenship: 1865 to Present, 2012 with Henry L. Gates et al.

Ben Karp

ICAS adjunct fellow, historian and scholar of ethnic representation in the U.S. and Japan

Ben Karp is an ICAS Fellow, who holds degrees in English, history and African American Studies from Goucher College and Yale University. He is a founder of the Eliezer Society, described by Time Magazine as an organization which has “attracted some of the world’s most influential speakers,” and has worked on political campaigns, including as a finance chair of Senator Cory Booker’s first campaign for mayor of Newark, New Jersey. Ben came to Japan in 2002, establishing a jewelry distribution business, developing points of sale at Mitsukoshi and other major Japanese department stores. He has also worked in Tokyo as a business consultant and guest taught and lectured on a range of subjects, and has published articles and been quoted in The Asahi Shimbun/International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Daily Beast.