AP Poll Claims Racism Bigger Foe For Obama Than Believed

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[Journal-ism: Election 2008]

"Many white Democratic and independent voters are steering clear of Barack Obama because of the color of his skin, according to a new poll that shows racial prejudice is more widespread and critical to the election than commonly thought," according to an advisory from the Associated Press about a survey to be released this weekend.

A Stanford political science professor who worked on the study, Paul Sniderman, told Journal-isms on Friday there was no significant difference between white Republicans, white Democrats and white independents in the level of bias.

"A bigot doesn't think he's a bigot," Sniderman said. "He thinks he's seeing the world just as it is. That's why bigotry is a force.

"It doesn't follow that Obama can't win," he continued, but "it's up to him to win it."

[The story, released Saturday, began, "Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks — many calling them 'lazy,' 'violent,' responsible for their own troubles.

["The poll, conducted with Stanford University, suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004 — about two and one-half percentage points.

[". . . The findings suggest that Obama's problem is close to home — among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans" who back Republican John McCain.

["Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice."]

The national study was conducted by Stanford's Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, with professors Jon Krosnick, Morris Fiorina and Sniderman collaborating.

Sniderman said the survey results did not surprise him, as he has been conducting research on prejudice since 1985. "But it's great that people will have the evidence right in front of them. This is just a wonderful opportunity for people to be able to see a part of the world that we've persuaded ourselves doesn't exist," he told Journal-isms.

In its advisory Thursday, the news cooperative said, "The candidacy of Barack Obama, bidding to become the first black president, will test Americans' racial attitudes when they vote Nov. 4.

"In a landmark survey, Stanford University, in conjunction with The Associated Press and Yahoo! News, examined the racial views of Democrats, Republicans and independents, and how their impressions could affect the contest between Obama and Republican John McCain."

For Sunday, AP said, it plans a story on the poll "that shows racial prejudice is more widespread and critical to the election than commonly thought."

For Monday afternoon papers, it said, it is moving a story concluding, "Racism remains a major part of American life."
For Tuesday morning papers, "A look at the presidential contest and the issue of race in a battleground state, Ohio."
AP spokesman Paul D. Colford told Journal-isms Friday he could release no more information on the stories beyond the advisory, and did not respond to a question about whether black journalists wrote any of them.

The initial story released Saturday was written by Ron Fournier, Washington bureau chief, and Trevor Tompson, manager of news surveys, both white journalists. Sonya Ross, a news editor in the Washington bureau and a black journalist, was listed as one of five contributors.

Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

(Full disclosure: Richard Prince works part time at the Washington Post.)

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