“3 in 10 Americans Admit to Race Bias”-that’s the hyped headline on the Washington Post story on a new poll that looks at how racial prejudice might affect the election outcome. But it turns out to be a little more complicated than the Post story lets on. Here’s how Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta describe the findings:
More than six in 10 African Americans now rate race relations as “not so good” or “poor,” while 53 percent of whites hold more positive views. Opinions are also divided along racial lines, though less so, on whether blacks face discrimination.There is more similarity on feelings of personal racial prejudice: Thirty percent of whites and 34 percent of blacks admit such sentiments.
As in most polls on this issue, blacks are somewhat more likely to hold prejudiced views than whites, as I’ve written about this at length here. But the actual poll data shows an even bigger gap between whites and blacks when the question is not about feelings of racial prejudice but “some racist feelings.” Here, there’s a pretty sizable gap and 40 percent of blacks (and 32 percent of whites) admit to such feelings.
But prejudiced or racist views aside, it appears Americans are overwhelmingly open to a black president:
At the same time, there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be “entirely comfortable” with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.
Maybe the real story here was in the Post’s subhead: “Survey Shows Age, Too, May Affect Election Views.” It’s not Obama’s race that may play a big role in the election, but McCain’s age.