We’ve heard the argument all autumn from Republicans, most pundits and even, at times, from the White House—racism is a tiny factor (if a factor at all) in explicit hatred of Obama and general drift toward whiter-than-white Romney. Now the Associated Press is out with a poll showing that not only do a majority of Americans harbor some anti-black views (“whether they recognize those feelings or not”), but that number has actually grown since Obama took office—up from 51 percent to 56 percent.
AP: “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.” They said racist views will cost Obama 5 percent of the vote, while pro-black views gain him 3 percent, so he loses 2 percent on balance.
And anti-Hispanic views are held by 57 percent.
AP found a wide partisan gap, with 79 percent of Republicans versus 32 percent of Dems expressing anti-black views. Despite all of these findings, and some of the head-scratching details, the poll, from a respected, nonpartisan source, drew little media response, beyond the newspaper that may have printed the AP report or other outlets that (briefly) mentioned it. Conservatives, naturally, attacked the findings.
The AP developed the surveys “to measure sensitive racial views in several ways and repeated those studies several times between 2008 and 2012,” they relate. They ask questions to tease how prejudicial views, such as whether people in ethnic groups are viewed as lazy, or if someone is less likely to vote for someone because of their race.
A few details: the poll found that only 49 percent believe Obama was born in the US, with 39 percent still saying, at that late date, that he was born in another country. The rest would not offer an opinion. Still, the wingnuts quickly denounced the poll, or rather, “poll,” as they put it.
Other findings, when you drill down: 23 percent consider Obama “socialist” and 18 percent call him “un-American.” Some 33 percent ID him as Protestant or Catholic with 10 percent calling him Muslim—and 18 percent saying he is Jewish.
The poll sample was 1,057 adults with margin of error about 3.5 percent, with 35 percent Dem and 27 percent GOPers. The sample was 67 percent white. Full results here.