Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the US 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.
• 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. (The full link has examples of questions.)
• 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.
• Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote. However, Obama
also stands to make up some of that (3 points) because of pro-black sentiment, researchers said.
“We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step,” says Jelani Cobb of the Institute for
African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut. “When we’ve seen progress, we’ve also seen backlash.”