Clearly, the Obama presidency hasn't wiped out racial prejudices. The AP measured racial attitudes using questions that explicitly asked respondents about their views and through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly. Quoting from the AP story again:
"In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell."
These findings should not surprise anybody. Whether you're white, black or brown, ask yourself: Do you harbor racial attitudes you wouldn't share in pleasant company? You almost certainly have friends or relatives whose honest views on race make you wince. Does anybody really believe we've made the full journey to racial equality?
And yet, this is almost a third rail of politics. When I accused the Romney campaign of exploiting racial prejudices with welfare reform, my Twitter stream and email erupted with claims that I was a liberal or racist, or both. A few of the invectives came from bigots. That didn't surprise me. Neither did the stern denials by the Romney campaign. What I didn't expect: Objections from the Obama campaign.
When I said during a forum in Charlotte that racial tensions cost Obama votes, Obama pollster Joel Benenson argued that white voters who are against Obama because of his race are already anti-Obama voters. He stopped short of accusing Romney of playing the race card. In 2008, Benenson denounced the AP polling methodology on race.
Benenson is a respected pollster and his objections should not be taken lightly. But Democratic strategists will tell you privately that Obama and his campaign aides tread carefully on the race issue to avoid looking like he's playing racial politics -- an especially dangerous game for a black man in America.
"(Obama and his team) are making the right decision not to "˜take the bait,''' Donna Brazile told me in Charlotte. "We have seen time and time again that our short-lived conversations on race are both superficial and disingenuous."
This week, The Washington Post published a story saying that the 2012 presidential election is the most polarized since 1988. My tweet on the story sparked a debate over whether Obama was paying a price for the color of his skin.
@ron_fournier: WaPost and other find Obama's support among white voters eroding. How much of this, if any, related to racial prejudice? Discuss.
@Ed_Brookover: wouldn't the prejudice have been factored in early??
A respected GOP consultant, Brookover was essentially taking Benenson's position. Most of the people who responded to the Tweet disagreed with my premise, some harshly so. A few agreed including: