Race may play significant role in presidential election, survey finds

Aug 06, 2012

Voters' racial attitudes, both conscious and unconscious, may be a significant factor in this year's U.S. presidential election, particularly since whites tend to prefer people of their own race, according to research presented at the 120th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association.

"People may not even be aware that they have certain and that could be why, even with an African-American president in the White House for nearly four years, race continues to play a role in electoral politics," Anthony G. Greenwald, PhD, said in an interview. Greenwald was lead researcher on a Anthony G. Greenwald, PhD, survey of 15,000 voters.

The survey asked respondents about their , how "warmly" they felt toward black and white people, and which they preferred. The survey was done between January and April 2012, while the Republican hopefuls included Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The research team also measured unconscious racial attitudes using the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which Greenwald developed more than a decade ago to measure thoughts and biases that people don't realize they have. Variations of the test measure about topics such as race, gender, sexuality and ethnicity.

The IAT results showed a pattern labeled "automatic white preference" among a majority of eligible white voters. The finding that some candidates are more attractive to voters with pro-white racial attitudes does not mean that those candidates are racist, Greenwald emphasized.

Previous research has shown that both blacks and whites show explicit preferences for their own race, according to Greenwald. However, when it comes to implicit, or unconscious, preferences, blacks tend not to prefer one race over another, whereas close to 70 percent of white Americans show an implicit , he said.

The research team is continuing to collect data on people's attitudes about the 2012 presidential candidates as part of the Decision 2012 IAT study, with a survey modified to focus on voters' comparisons of Romney with President Obama. Summaries of the data will be posted on the site each month beginning in mid-August. Anyone can take the test at https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/demo/featuredtask.html

Explore further: Non-citizens face harsher sentencing than citizens in US criminal courts

More information: Presentation: "What Role Will Race Play in the 2012 Presidential Election?" Session 3356, Saturday, Aug. 4, 4-4:50 p.m., Rooms W206B and C, Orange County Convention Center

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Power can corrupt even the honest

4 hours ago

When appointing a new leader, selectors base their choice on several factors and typically look for leaders with desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust ...

Learning at 10 degrees north

5 hours ago

Secluded beaches, calypso music and the entertaining carnival are often what come to mind when thinking of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. But Dal Earth Sciences students might first consider Trinidad's ...

How to find the knowns and unknowns in any research

7 hours ago

Have you ever felt overloaded by information? Ever wondered how to make sense of claims and counter-claims about a topic? With so much information out there on many different issues, how is a person new to ...

Minorities energize US consumer market, according to report

7 hours ago

The buying power of minority groups in the U.S. has reached new heights and continues to outpace cumulative inflation, according to the latest Multicultural Economy Report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the ...

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2012
I suspect 97% of the people who will vote against Obama because he's "blah", are aware of why they are doing it.
3.5 / 5 (8) Aug 06, 2012
A majority of whites had to vote for Obama in 2008 for him to have won.
I here ~90% of blacks will vote for BHO in 2012 in spite of their dismal employment and economic situation enabled by BHO.
Race does play a role.
1 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2012
And here is just an example above me.

Might as well make this political. Lets just say that a certain group of Republican made it their business to get in the way of any proposal that Obama put up there.. If he was for it they were against it. They ruined the economy in order to get "the black guy" out of office.
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
RyggTard apparently believes that if only America had allowed all of it's major banks to go bankrupt, in 2008, the economy would have not suffered.

It is a view shared by most Conservatives who haven't got a clue as to how the national or global economy works.

"I here ~90% of blacks will vote for BHO in 2012 in spite of their dismal employment and economic situation enabled by BHO." - RyggTard
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
They ruined the economy with 40 years of borrow and spend Republicanism.

To get the black guy out of the white house, their plan was to oppose any measure that would improve the economy, and blame the resulting massive deficits on the black guy in the white house.

Since Bush era economic policies caused the U.S. economy to collapse, keeping Americans from starving in the streets has cost America 500 billion a year.

What will happen should Republicans manage to succeed in cutting that funding?

"They ruined the economy in order to get "the black guy" out of office." - Mrlewish
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2012
*shakes head* VD, where do you find your 'facts'? You're an amazing person. I'd feel bad if I made up as much nonsense as you do. It's called denial and/or dishonesty. With you, I think it's both.
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2012

That study can't be right. It has voters choosing their candidate on something besides race! I couldn't imagine voters choosing a candidate based upon ideals or ability!
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2012
@AWaB It's called denial and/or dishonesty.
What's wrong? Don't you have some oil to steal or a police state to build or some jobs to outsource or some plutocrats to represent?
5 / 5 (1) Aug 08, 2012
What's wrong? Don't you have some oil to steal or a police state to build or some jobs to outsource or some plutocrats to represent?

Do you have someone else to dehumanize, marginalize, and dismiss to allay your insecurities and fear?