Next, the report just released by Yahoo:
In a report sure to spark a national conversation on race, an AP-Yahoo News study reported Saturday that white prejudice could be a significant enough factor to undermine Barack Obama’s bid to be the first black president of the United States.
The AP-Yahoo study concluded that white Democratic racism may cause 2.5 percent of voters to "turn away from Obama because of his race," roughly the margin of President Bush's victory over John F. Kerry in 2004.
The AP-Yahoo study found that one-third of white Democrats cited a negative adjective when describing blacks and, of those, just 58 percent said they planned to back Obama. For example, AP reported that more than a quarter of white Democrats agreed that “if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.” Four in 10 white independents agreed, while a quarter described blacks as "violent."
White Democratic supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton were almost twice as likely as Obama’s primary supporters to cite a negative adjective in describing blacks — a finding consistent with trends in earlier polling. Only 59 percent of Clinton’s white Democratic supporters wanted Obama to be president.
The report may now begin a conversation on race, one notably absent considering the historic nature of Obama’s bid — and his own call for such a conversation in a speech delivered after racially charged remarks from his longtime pastor Jeremiah Wright emerged during the primary season. Just last month Obama accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Throughout the 2008 presidential race, pollsters have been struggling to accurately gauge the degree of prejudice among whites and how that may affect the final outcome of this election. Democratic primary exit polls suggested that racism was a factor in the vote of as many as a fifth of white party members.
Analysts have long presumed that racism was underreported, as some who factor race into their vote would not be willing to admit that prejudice to pollsters.
Any possible latent racial prejudice among white Democrats has been of particular interest to analysts because it could potentially undo Obama’s presidential bid. The AP study found that racism pervades political identity but that Republicans are already predisposed to support John McCain, regardless of their views on race.
To detect unreported racial biases, the study, among other metrics, sat those interviewed in front of monitors, using black and white faces to “measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them.” The survey then used statistical modeling to estimate how representative those interviewed were of the electorate overall.
The survey's conclusions are likely to be controversial. AP reported that its team of pollsters “set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats.”
The study, and report, both ignore other weaknesses widely considered by seasoned analysts to also undercut Obama’s bid, among them his inexperience, generally liberal record and the fact that no northern Democrat has been elected president since 1960.
Still, analysts have also long agreed that race was a crucial unknown factor in this presidential race. The study also notes that race has helped Obama win near uniform support among blacks — who have long tilted overwhelmingly Democratic — though it does not consider whether some whites are also supporting Obama because his victory could symbolize a large step forward in race relations.
The study also did not test whether another black candidate, with perhaps different views or biography, would have fared better among whites. Other critical analysts may note that the study does not investigate the voting history of those interviewed, as some Democrats have supported Republicans from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush.
The study also does not investigate whether the views of those interviewed on significant issues, like abortion or national security, may drive conservative Democrats and independents, who in the Democratic primaries disproportionally favored Hillary Clinton.
Perhaps most noteworthy, the AP notes that the study itself found that “race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama.” It notes that “doubts about his competency loom even larger.”
More than one in five Democrats, the AP notes, questioned whether Obama can enact “the change they want” and said they were likely to vote against him for this reason.
The AP study also seems to have been conducted among a population of Democrats more skeptical of Obama than normal. While both the ABC News/Washington Post polls and the massive weekly summaries of the Gallup Poll show that since late August between 83 and 85 percent of Democrats say they will vote for Obama, the AP study interviewed a population where just seven in 10 Democrats said they support Obama.But perhaps the importance of the study is that it demonstrates racial attitudes also cannot be simply dismissed.
When those interviewed were offered a choice of positive and negative adjectives to describe blacks, one-fifth of all whites said the words “boastful” or "violent" “strongly applied,” while 29 percent cited the word "complaining.”