The explicit racism measures asked respondents whether they agreed or disagreed with a series of statements about black and Hispanic people. In addition, the surveys asked how well respondents thought certain words, such as "friendly," ''hardworking," ''violent" and "lazy," described blacks, whites and Hispanics.
The same respondents were also administered a survey designed to measure implicit racism, in which a photo of a black, Hispanic or white male flashed on the screen before a neutral image of a Chinese character. The respondents were then asked to rate their feelings toward the Chinese character. Previous research has shown that people transfer their feelings about the photo onto the character, allowing researchers to measure racist feelings even if a respondent does not acknowledge them.I'm guessing that AP thinks this material is helpful to Obama, perhaps guilt-tripping Americans into voting for Obama as a way to say I'm not racist. But it can cut the other way, because Obama came into office at least in part because people believed in his seeming promise to take us to a higher ground racially, as if he had a special gift to cure racial ills.
Obama didn't give us that gift. We didn't get what we wanted for Christmas. But we're not children. Let's say we were deluded/misled into thinking this nice young man could solve old problems in some miraculous new way. It turned out that he was a normal politician, operating in a political mode, playing us on the issues he found playable. Fine! Okay. We're smarter now. We have more information. We don't want to be racist, but what's the non-racist response?
Judge him up or down on his actual performance. He is only a man, only a politician. Treat him accordingly.
MORE: Detail on how the research was done here and here (PDF).