Race Bias in America

Very interesting survey in the Washington Post this morning about racial bias. Apparently, there are about 3 in 10 of us who admit to being biased toward another race - 30% of whites and 34% of blacks.

African Americans have a much dimmer view of race relations in America today with 60% believing relations between whites and blacks are bad while 53% of whites think they're good.

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.

Even so, just over half of whites in the new poll called Obama a "risky" choice for the White House, while two-thirds said McCain is a "safe" pick. Forty-three percent of whites said Obama has sufficient experience to serve effectively as president, and about two in 10 worry he would overrepresent the interests of African Americans.

Obama will be forced to confront these views as he seeks to broaden his appeal. He leads in the Post-ABC poll by six percentage points among all adults, but among those who are most likely to vote, the contest is a tossup, with McCain at 48 percent and Obama at 47 percent.

I find it interesting that the Post would use the "risky choice" argument and tie it to race. Why? It lumps people who genuinely believe Obama's inexperience and, more importantly, his demonstrated naivete in foreign affairs as a disqualifying attribute with the Kluxers. I don't believe that's accurate or fair.

The gap between black and white views on the state of race relations is not unexpected or new. But I found it interesting that up to 1/3 of respondents of both races would actually admit to bias. It seems to me that number is going to be higher - for both races - which makes Obama's job very difficult.

African Americans see Obama as someone who can transform race relations more than whites by a 60-38% margin. That too is significant in that it guarantees a large African American turnout for Obama in November.

Most of the numbers in this poll are similar to one taken 5 years ago so it seems we haven't made much progress. On the other hand, we haven't fallen back either. This may reflect the polarizing nature of our politics where few minds are changed about anything.
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