I know that we like to think of ourselves as living in a post-racial America. I wish we were there. I truly wish we lived in a land in which race simply doesn't matter. Several researchers have looked at the 2008 election and asked whether race was a factor in voting in the 2008 election. These researchers were able to use Google searches (looking for racially motivated terms). An estimated three to five percent of the votes cast for racially motivated.
The New York Times has more:
Consider two media markets, Denver and Wheeling (which is a market evenly split between Ohio and West Virginia). Mr. Kerry received roughly 50 percent of the votes in both markets. Based on the large gains for Democrats in 2008, Mr. Obama should have received about 57 percent of votes in both Denver and Wheeling. Denver and Wheeling, though, exhibit different racial attitudes. Denver had the fourth lowest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won 57 percent of the vote there, just as predicted. Wheeling had the seventh highest racially charged search rate in the country. Mr. Obama won less than 48 percent of the Wheeling vote.
Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally.