Opinion: Barack Obama faces daunting hurdle, poll on race finds

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When political scientists hash over the 2008 presidential election in the years to come, they will return -- time and again -- to race. Regardless of who wins, the results will be sifted, analyzed and sized up from every possible angle for evidence of the role racial attitudes did (or did not) play in the outcome.

A poll released over the weekend, which The Ticket mentioned briefly Sunday, gained much attention because it took a preemptive crack at probing this question. And here’s the opening clause in the Associated Press story by Ron Fournier and Trevor Tompson: ‘Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close... .’

The article elaborated that according to a recent AP-Yahoo News poll, ‘More than a third of all white Democrats and independents -- voters Obama can’t win the White House without -- agreed with at least....

Advertisement negative adjective about blacks ... and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.’

The adjectives included ‘violent,’ ‘complaining,’ ‘lazy’ and ‘irresponsible.’

‘Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama’s support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice,’ Fournier and Tompson write.

The survey also found that Obama should benefit from almost unanimous support from black voters.

The entire poll can be viewed here; the racially themed questions and findings are toward the end of the file.

A separate AP story explained the poll’s distinctive methodology. For one, it was conducted online; studies have shown that people are more likely to report unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer.

Obama addressed the poll’s findings in an interview with John Harwood of CNBC and the New York Times.

‘Look, if you’re asking me are there some people who might not vote for me because of my race? Of course. Are there some who might vote for me because of my race? You bet,’ he said.

But he dismissed the notion that race would be a major factor in the election’s outcome. ‘I think ultimately, though, the question’s going to be decided by a guy or a woman who is working hard every day trying to save enough to send their kid to college, trying to pay the bills.’

-- Kate Linthicum