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WASHINGTON (AP) — Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people's more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.

"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time … it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.

Most Americans expressed anti-Hispanic sentiments, too. In an AP survey done in 2011, 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites expressed anti-Hispanic attitudes. That figure rose to 57 percent in the implicit test. The survey on Hispanics had no past data for comparison.

The AP surveys were conducted with researchers from Stanford University, the University of Michigan and NORC at the University of Chicago.

Experts on race said they were not surprised by the findings.

"We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked," said Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. "When we've seen progress, we've also seen backlash."

Obama has tread cautiously on the subject of race, but many African-Americans have talked openly about perceived antagonism toward them since Obama took office. As evidence, they point to events involving police brutality or cite bumper stickers, cartoons and protest posters that mock the president as a lion or a monkey, or lynch him in effigy.

"Part of it is growing polarization within American society," said Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University. "The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There's been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings."

Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

Obama faced a similar situation in 2008, the survey then found.

The AP developed the surveys to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012.

The explicit racism measures asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about black and Hispanic people. In addition, the surveys asked how well respondents thought certain words, such as "friendly," ''hardworking," ''violent" and "lazy," described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

The same respondents were also administered a survey designed to measure implicit racism, in which a photo of a black, Hispanic or white male flashed on the screen before a neutral image of a Chinese character. The respondents were then asked to rate their feelings toward the Chinese character. Previous research has shown that people transfer their feelings about the photo onto the character, allowing researchers to measure racist feelings even if a respondent does not acknowledge them.

Results from those questions were analyzed with poll takers' ages, partisan beliefs, views on Obama and Romney and other factors, which allowed researchers to predict the likelihood that people would vote for either Obama or Romney. Those models were then used to estimate the net impact of each factor on the candidates' support.

All the surveys were conducted online. Other research has shown that poll takers are more likely to share unpopular attitudes when they are filling out a survey using a computer rather than speaking with an interviewer. Respondents were randomly selected from a nationally representative panel maintained by GfK Custom Research.

Overall results from each survey have a margin of sampling error of approximately plus or minus 4 percentage points. The most recent poll, measuring anti-black views, was conducted Aug. 30 to Sept. 11.

Andra Gillespie, an Emory University political scientist who studies race-neutrality among black politicians, contrasted the situation to that faced by the first black mayors elected in major U.S. cities, the closest parallel to Obama's first-black situation. Those mayors, she said, typically won about 20 percent of the white vote in their first races, but when seeking reelection they enjoyed greater white support presumably because "the whites who stayed in the cities … became more comfortable with a black executive."

"President Obama's election clearly didn't change those who appear to be sort of hard-wired folks with racial resentment," she said.

Negative racial attitudes can manifest in policy, noted Alan Jenkins, an assistant solicitor general during the Clinton administration and now executive director of the Opportunity Agenda think tank.

"That has very real circumstances in the way people are treated by police, the way kids are treated by teachers, the way home seekers are treated by landlords and real estate agents," Jenkins said.

Hakeem Jeffries, a New York state assemblyman and candidate for a congressional seat being vacated by a fellow black Democrat, called it troubling that more progress on racial attitudes had not been made. Jeffries has fought a New York City police program of "stop and frisk" that has affected mostly blacks and Latinos but which supporters contend is not racially focused.

"I do remain cautiously optimistic that the future of America bends toward the side of increased racial tolerance," Jeffries said. "We've come a long way, but clearly these results demonstrate there's a long way to go."


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11 thoughts on “AP Poll: Majority Harbor Prejudice Against Blacks

  1. africanwarrior on said:

    How can Black Men complain about racism and Human Rights abuses at the Hands Of White Men when They are depriving Black Women Of Theirs?
    Hell Black Men think it’s Ok To Beat Up Black Women, and proudly hug their White Women While displaying their Bi-Racial Children. Incidentally , many White Women are courting Black men in order to produce little ” Cute Brown Obama Looking Babies”.
    Black men don’t care about their Balck Babies produced with Black Women

  2. africanwarrior on said:

    First of all These Two writers are giving White People power over Blacks & Latinos. These Two Writers are like many un informed Americans who don’t realize that 35% of America is non White and that in 25 Yrs America will be 45% Non White. These Types of comments can backfire. President Obama is genetically equally White & Black , and we also must realize that he was raised White, and wouldn’t have been elected President had he been Dark Black African American. White Liberals felt comfortable electing a “Colored” looking President who was raised like them.

  3. mafrha on said:

    TigreNoir, the writers noted that President Obama is the first black to be elected president of the United States. They did not say he was the “black President” as you said. This is no different than someone saying that Thurgood Marshall was the first black Supreme Court Justice or Jackie Robinson was the first black major league baseball player. Saying that President Obama is the first black elected president of the United States does not diminish his accomplishment but highlights it.

    The writer of the article make some valid points. There are many whites who are prejudice. They are voting for Romney not because he is better qualified than President Obama or even qualifed to be president but because he is white.

    However there are many whites who are fair-minded and able to look pass a person’s skin color and vote for the better man for the job who in this case is President Obama. It would be a shame and disgrace for Romney to be president. This would let the world know that collectively this country chose to take a giant step backwards. That when we vote for the president of the United States narrow-mindedness and bigotry guide our decison rather than a person’s abilty and fitness for the job.

  4. jlmathis3 on said:

    I want to know how come everybody has a choice for the party they choose except blacks. In Cameroon they have 16 political parties. In US we have 1 . It doesn’t really seem like I’m free with choice. If i vote Republican then I’m not for the people. What about choice? Forget all this racism crap they keep using. Republicans care about people who want to achieve. Democrats want everybody to achieve. I can find a job easy. I don’t like asking the government for nothing. Taxes are too high. I just want to be able to choose without ridicule and race.

  5. dbell93 on said:

    Some of what you say is true, but it has nothing to do with Black men not loving their own women and children, it has to do with Black men not loving themselves. The Majority of Black men do not know how to lead. Therefore, to imulate is all they have achieved and know. Whatever the white man had that he can get too, that is success. As far as brutality to women, White men are doing quite a bit of that themselves. You are burning them, eating, and the beat goes on. The same for White women. They love for what they are told they can’t have has always been the rudder for them. Act as if you have a problem with them having something, and they will go out of their way to get it. In some ways, as a black woman I wouldn’t mind. Actually, they probably deserve each other. It’s just that Blacks don’t have enough commerce to give it back to the whites and not use the money for betternent of more blacks. That’s my problem with them. They can do just like white men did during slavery. Have all the white women and babies they want to, just don’t marry them and don’t give commerce back to the white man.

  6. Racial bias has been around for a long time and will probably get worse as the white population loses its numerical majority. The election of Pres. Obama did NOT cause an increase in prejudice. Racism is transmitted from one generation to another in a systematic way. With all of the contributions made by blacks to this nation, one would think that such biases would end- NOT!!

  7. africanwarrior on said:

    cm 20 is right on the mark.
    What are we going to do If President Obama Looses To Mitt Romney?
    Is our life going to come to an end?
    Why do we allow White Americans to define us?
    We havour own culture and we need to learn it and take pride in it.
    How much longer are we going to beg?

  8. TigreNoir on said:

    Articles like this perpetuate racism in America. President Obama is not the “black president” as you say. President Obama is the President of the United States of America. I would also be offended if you stated that Bush was the white president. If President Obama loses this election you can take some responsibility in that.

  9. Louis Farrakhan words:
    Have you visited China town, Korean town, Polish town, Greek town, Italian town or the Japanese they have built communities they own the houses, they own the businesses, they own the banks and they send their kids to many American colleges and they come back with that knowledge and keep expanding those communities. They are separate but a part of America. But look at us Black people a continuous cycle of non productivity of our own people and we were here long before any of those people. What is the purpose of education it should help us not to be beggars of another people for the necessities of life, it should help us to create the necessities of life for ourselves and our people. Some black people say they don’t have a connection to their own people, but you can’t escape who you are. So we are going to picket to go to the white mans, schools, stores, theaters, banks and restaurants. And now Obama is begging to get a jobs bill passed and they are giving him hell and if passed how many of those jobs will come to us. (Black people are on some kind of new cloud). Peace CM.

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