AP Writers Claim Their 'Poll' Shows 'Majority Harbor Prejudice Against Blacks'

The latest and possibly last (we can hope) preelection poll from partnership between the Associated Press and GfK Roper International purportedly tells us that most of us "now express prejudice toward blacks" whether we "recognize those feelings or not."

That's the conclusion communicated by AP reporter Sonya Ross and wire service deputy director of polling Jennifer Agiesta. In case we don't get the point, the item's accompanying photograph at the AP national site, Yahoo News and likely elsewhere is of Barack Obama, who despite the recognized and unrecognized racism of most Americans managed to carry 53% of the vote in 2008. Contrary to the report's headline, the AP pair admit that the AP-GfK poll results alone (done online, to add insult to injury) don't prove the point they're trying to make; other bizarre tests are also involved.


Here are several key paragraphs from the AP report (bolds are mine), one which basically says that "if Obama loses by a narrow margin, it will be because of racism":

AP POLL: MAJORITY HARBOR PREJUDICE AGAINST BLACKS

Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not.

Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some Americans' more favorable views of blacks.

Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.

In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election.

... Overall, the survey found that by virtue of racial prejudice, Obama could lose 5 percentage points off his share of the popular vote in his Nov. 6 contest against Republican challenger Mitt Romney. However, Obama also stands to benefit from a 3 percentage point gain due to pro-black sentiment, researchers said. Overall, that means an estimated net loss of 2 percentage points due to anti-black attitudes.

The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

Stop. Right. There. Obviously, there is a reality disconnect.

Anyone should recognize that it's impossible for a higher percentage of a a group (79%) to express "explicit (anti-black) racism" and for only 64% of that same group to hold "anti-black feelings."  That the survey obtained this result proves beyond doubt without going further that its determination of what does and doesn't constitute explicit and implicit racism is inconsistent and flawed to the point of rendering its results useless.

Continuing:

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.

This is so intellectually vacant it's hard to believe it was published.

Simply put, if someone is willing to endure a survey as painful as this (I'll discuss that point eventually), one may believe that certain group has more or less of a particular characteristic for reasons which have nothing to do with prejudice or racism. For example, if you're familiar with crime statistics broken down by race which consistently show blacks involved with violent crime at a rate that far exceeds whites and you indicate at Survey question RAC 11 that "violent" is an adjective which describes most blacks "slightly well," you probably tripped the survey's "Racistometer," when all you've actually done is recite reality. Similarly, if you are aware that the welfare and education systems have inarguably done serious damage to the life prospects of millions of black kids for at least two generations, a "slightly well" or "moderately well" answer as to whether "most blacks" are "irresponsible" will probably cause the "Racistometer" to go into the red.

If you believe, as I do, that the survey is already irretrievably absurd, wait until you see the following, as we dive headlong into Cuckooland:

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 would call this methodology horse manure, but it stinks far worse than any equine excrement I've encountered. It wouldn't pass muster in the third grade at a decent school.

Oh, there's more:

... All the surveys were conducted online. Other research has shown that poll takers are more likely to share unpopular attitudes when they are filling out a survey using a computer rather than speaking with an interviewer. Respondents were randomly selected from a nationally representative panel maintained by GfK Custom Research.

In addition to being more willing to share unpopular attitudes, online respondents are more likely to fib for the fun of it or have someone else do the survey for them.

PJ Media blogger "Zombie" noted several weeks ago that leading pollster Pew Research had seen a 27-point decline from 36 percent to 9 percent in survey completion in the past 15 years. More specifically, Pew pollsters failed to even contact almost 40% of those they wish to reach, and are only able to get about one in seven of those they do reach to complete their surveys. Pew believes that its results reflect what has occurred in the industry as a whole.

The AP-GfK survey would seem to be extraordinarily vulnerable to having a low completion rate. I would expect that a high percentage of Americans would feel insulted and leave the survey after seeing one or more of the following questions, all of which can be found in its detail:

Overall, do you approve, disapprove, or neither approve nor disapprove of the way Barack Obama handled the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden?

Do you happen to know the religion of each of the following people? (Barack Obama and Mitt Romney)

How much do you like or dislike each of the following groups? (Separate questions for whites, blacks, and Hispanics, which were asked before the racial characteristic questions)

When it comes to politics, would you say that each of the groups listed below has too much influence, just about the right amount of influence, or to little influence? (Separate questions for whites, blacks, Hispanics, elderly people, wealthy people, and immigrants)

How well does each of these words describe most ________? (whites, blacks, Hispanics) Characteristics polled: Friendly, Determined to Succeed, Law Abiding, Hard-working, intelligent at school, Smart at everyday things, Good neighbors, Dependable, Keep up their property, Violent, Boastful, Lazy, Complaining, Irresponsible. Possible answers: Extremely well, Very well, Moderately well, Slightly Well, Not at all, Refused)

Please indicate how much you agree or disagree with the following statements:
- Irish, Italians, Jewish, and other minorities overcame prejudice and worked their way up. Blacks should do the same without special favors.
- It’s really a matter of some people just not trying hard enough; if blacks would only try harder, they could just be as well off as whites.
- Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class.
- Blacks are demanding too much from the rest of society.
- Over the past few years, blacks have gotten LESS than they deserve.
- Most blacks who receive money from welfare programs could get along without it if they tried. (Note well: The question was not asked about whites or Hispanics. Who's the racist here? -- Ed.)
- Government officials usually pay less attention to a request or complaint from a black person than from a white person.
- Over the past few years, blacks have gotten more ECONOMICALLY than they deserve.

How similar do you think Barack Obama is to most Black Americans?

How similar do you think Barack Obama is to most White Americans?

Is it your best guess that Obama was born in the United States, or in another country? (Note: 39% said "another country" -- Ed.)

Does that fact that Barack Obama is the first Black president of the United States make you more likely to vote for him, less likely to vote for him, or does it not affect your vote either way?

That's not even all of the repulsive questions asked.

As usual, the poll's sample has partisan cooking (46% Democrats, 36% Republicans, 14% Independents, down from a ridiculous 49-34-7 split in the related poll two years ago).

There are some substantive results from the poll, especially considering that they occurred despite the partisan cooking and question-order conditioning, which Ross and Agiesta "somehow" didn't get to:

  • Obama's approval rating on the economy has dropped from 36% to 27% in the past two years. Disapproval has jumped from 44% to 52%.
  • Obama approval on gas prices has gone from 25% to 16% in two years; disapproval has moved from 33% to 54%.
  • The presidential preference result was 42% for Obama and 33% for Romney, with 18% saying "don't know."
  • The percentage who describe Obama as "intelligent" is only 50% (down 12 points from two years ago); "will bring about change" is 28% (down 20 points); "unifying" is 12% (down 9 points).
  • ObamaCare's strong support is down from 28% to 16% in the past two years, while strong opposition has moved from 12% to 26%.

Of course, none of this was anywhere near as important as calling most Americans racist and trying to guilt-trip undecideds into voting for Obama based on bogus results of a bogus survey.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.