Poll: Racial attitudes toward blacks could cost Obama at the polls

More Americans are expressing explicit anti-black attitudes now than in 2008, and that sentiment could cost President Obama on Election Day, according to a new Associated Press poll.

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Fifty-one percent of those polled explicitly expressed negative attitudes towards blacks, compared to 48 percent who did in 2008. The AP also measured "implicit racial attitudes" and found that 56 percent of Americans exhibited anti-black attitudes, up from 48 percent in 2008.

In measuring explicit racial attitudes towards blacks, the survey asked whether respondents agreed with statements about different racial groups and asked respondents whether they felt words like "friendly," "hardworking" and "violent" described blacks, whites and Hispanics.

To measure implicit racial attitudes, the survey showed respondents a photo of a black, white or Hispanic person, and then asked them to rate their feelings toward a Chinese character shown immediately after the first picture. According to the AP, studies have before shown that respondents transfer their feelings from the first photo onto the character.

The AP analysis of the survey results also indicated that Obama could lose 5 percentage points from the popular vote on Election Day because of those anti-black attitudes. But he stands to gain about 3 percentage points from positive attitudes toward blacks, according to the AP, resulting in a potential net loss of 2 percentage points in the popular vote. That two-point margin could cost the president the election in a race as close as this one.

Seventy-nine percent of Republicans expressed explicit racial prejudice, while only 32 percent of Democrats expressed the same. But a majority of both parties -- 55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans -- expressed racism when measured by the implicit test.

The survey was conducted among 1,071 adults online from Aug. 30 through Sept. 11 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.78 percentage points.

--This report was first posted at 1:33 p.m. and last updated at 5:16 p.m.