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I found a new Associated Press poll over the weekend and the results are disturbing. It says racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected it's first black president. The poll says a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.
AP analysis says those feelings could cost President Obama votes as he tries for re-election. The survey did indicate those effects could be mitigated by some Americans' more favorable views of blacks.
Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008. Those feelings were measured either through questions that explicitly asked respondents about racial attitudes or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.
In all 51% of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes compared to 48% in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by the implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56%, up from 49% during the last presidential election.
Jon Krosnick is a Stanford University professor who worked with the AP to develop the survey. He says "As much as we'd hoped 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."
How much of an impact could this have? The AP survey found that President Obama could lose five percentage points of his share of the popular vote in the contest against Mitt Romney.
Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Congressional canddiate may have put it best. "We've come a long way, but clearly these results demonstrate there's a long way to go."