How race affects attitudes towards Obama, health care
On the one hand, you don't want to make too much of this sort of thing. On the other hand, you don't want to totally ignore it, either:
According to a recent study by researchers from Stanford and the University of California at Irvine, negative views of the president do appear be correlated with racial bias. The problem with the Democracy Corps study, they say, is that it relied on its subjects to talk candidly about race. "People may fail to report the influence of race on their judgments," the researchers wrote, " … because they are unaware of it -- and might not acknowledge it even if they were aware of it."
To better measure people's "implicit" (or unconscious) prejudice, the California researchers asked those in the study to quickly sort stereotypically "black" and "white" words and names (Tyrone and Shaniqua vs. Brett and Jane) into positive and negative categories. They found that individuals displaying above-average levels of racial prejudice on this task were 42.5 percent less likely to have voted for Obama than those with average scores.
The researchers also found a negative correlation between racial prejudice and support for Obama's health-care reform effort. As a further test of this relationship, the researchers divided study participants into two groups and read both groups a health-care reform plan -- but one group was told that the policy was Obama's, while the other group was told that it was Bill Clinton's 1993 plan. Those subjects with higher levels of racial bias were more negative about the plan when it was attributed to Obama.
You could try and explain this away, of course: Obama and his health-care plan are polarizing right now, while Clinton isn't. But the results are troubling, and a reminder that we have real problems with race in this country, even as some prefer to manufacture fake outrage over accurate statements uttered by Harry Reid.
Photo credit: By Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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