Has the American electorate grown more racially polarized?

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President Obama has created a unique political divide in which “racial conservatives” are likely to oppose virtually any policy once he backs it, while many white liberals and African-Americans will embrace positions they previously didn’t once Obama does, according to a recent Slate piece.

“The only mistake the White House may have made in embracing policies that cut against those held by parts of the Democratic base—against white liberals on military tactics, or blacks on sexual politics—was in failing to have Obama personally embrace those positions as his own,” writes Slate’s Sasha Issenberg. “White liberals and blacks are as primed to support what he believes as racists are to oppose it, and a new Democratic orthodoxy is lining up behind him. Win or lose in November, this may be Barack Obama’s party for a long time.”

Issenberg refers to research from Brown University professor Michael Tesler in drawing these conclusions. The most recent example of this dynamic is gay marriage, as polls show large numbers of African-Americans have shifted towards supporting gay unions since Obama announced that he does.