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One-Third “Prejudiced,” But Many Think Obama Candidacy Helps Race Relations

Almost one-third of the country says they “have feelings of racial prejudice,” according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today. Thirty percent of white respondents, 34 percent of African-American respondents and 27 percent of “others” answered “yes” to the question: “If you honestly assessed yourself, would you say that you have at least some feelings of racial prejudice?” The overall total was 30 percent.

The pollsters also asked what effect Barack Obama’s candidacy would have on American race relations. Overall, 42 percent said “help,” 15 percent said “hurt” and 40 percent said “no effect.” But for this question, there was a signficant difference between white and black respondents. Thirty-eight percent of white people vs 60 percent of black people thought his candidacy would have a beneficial effect. Whites were much more inclined than black people to think it would have no effect: 43-31.

The pollsters found that, overall, Obama led John McCain 48 to 42 percent, a drop for both men since the May 11 findings when Obama was also leaning (51-44). Generally, Obama had higher favorability ratings and was greeted with more enthusiasm than McCain.

Interestingly, while 23 percent of the respondents thought race was an important consideration, 40 percent thought age was important. The pollsters did not ask whether black or white, youth or older age was on peoples’ mind when answering the question.

The telephone poll was conducted June 12-15 and has a margin or error of +/- 3 points.

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