More than a third of all white Democrats and independents — voters Obama can't win the White House without — agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don't have such views.Let's be careful. A poll asks whether you agree or disagree with various adjectives applied to black people in general. You give your responses. Do those responses really reveal your ordinary thought patterns? Do they tell us much about whether you apply these generalizations to specific individuals that you know a lot about, like Barack Obama?
That said, the poll does seem to have been carefully done. Some results:
Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word "violent" strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with "boastful," 29 percent "complaining," 13 percent "lazy" and 11 percent "irresponsible." When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.There's no getting around it. If Obama loses, some people will believe that racial prejudice made the difference. Don't many people already think it's important that he win in order to prevent that harmful belief from arising? Even if he does win, some people will think he would have won more decisively if it were not for racial prejudice, but it won't matter so much without the disappointment of losing.
Among white Democrats, one third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.
The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that "if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites."
Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn't.