Poll: Majority of Americans Are Racist

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 27 2012 4:28 PM

Poll: Majority of Americans Are Racist

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President Obama could lose an estimated two percentage points of the popular vote due to anti-black attitudes

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the four years since the United States elected the country’s first black president, a majority of Americans express outright prejudice toward blacks. Perhaps even more surprising though is that the numbers have slightly increased since 2008. A full 51 percent of Americans explicitly express anti-black prejudice, up from 48 percent in 2008, according to the Associated Press. When an implicit racial attitudes test is used the number increases to 56 percent, compared to 49 percent four years ago. The AP surveys, which were carried out by university researchers, ultimately found that President Obama could lose a net 2 percentage points of the popular vote due to anti-black attitudes.

Republicans are far more likely than Democrats to express outright racial prejudice, 79 percent to 32 percent. But the implicit test found that the two are far closer in attitudes, with 55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans having anti-black feelings. Experts aren't really surprised by the findings. "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 a Stanford University professor who helped develop the survey.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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