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Obama candidacy fails to paper over racial schism in US

Obama candidacy fails to paper over racial schism in US
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First Published: Wed, Jul 16 2008. 11 45 AM IST
Updated: Wed, Jul 16 2008. 11 45 AM IST
New York: Americans are sharply divided on racial lines heading into the first presidential election in which an African-American will be a major party nominee, a new poll shows.
Barack Obama, who is attempting to script history by being the first black President of the United States, leads his Republican rival John McCain among all registered voters by 45% to 39%.
However, in a sign of how racially polarized US voters are, Obama draws support from 89% of Blacks, compared with 2% for McCain, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
Among whites, Obama has 37% of the vote, compared with 46% for McCain, said the poll reflecting the race relations in the country.
In a finding that would require the 47-year-old senator to make a major effort to win white voters in the November election, more than 80% of lack voters had favourable opinion of Obama while only 30% Whites had the same feelings for him.
Nearly 60% of Black respondents said race relations were generally bad, compared with 34% of Whites.
However, black and white Americans agree that America is ready to elect a black president, but disagree on almost every other question about race in the poll.
Four in 10 blacks say that there has been no progress in recent years in eliminating racial discrimination; fewer than 2 in 10 whites say the same thing.
About one-quarter of white respondents said they thought that too much had been made of racial barriers facing black people, while one-half of black respondents said not enough had been made of racial impediments faced by blacks, the poll found.
The survey suggests that even as the nation crosses a racial threshold when it comes to politics — Obama is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas — many of the racial patterns in society remain unchanged in recent years, the Times said.
The poll showed markedly little change in the racial components of people’s daily lives since 2000, when The Times examined race relations in an extensive series of articles called “How Race Is Lived in America.”
As it was eight years ago, few Americans have regular contact with people of other races, and few say their own workplaces or their own neighbourhoods are integrated.
In this latest poll, over 40% of blacks said they believed they had been stopped by the police because of their race, the same figure as eight years ago; 7% of whites said the same thing.
Nearly 70% of blacks said they had encountered a specific instance of discrimination based on their race, compared with 62% in 2000; 26% of whites said they had been the victim of racial discrimination.
And when asked whether blacks or whites had a better chance of getting ahead in today’s society, 64% of black respondents said that whites did. That figure was slightly higher even than the 57% of blacks who said so in a 2000 poll by The Times.
And the number of blacks who described racial conditions as generally bad in this survey was almost identical to poll responses in 2000 and 1990.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted July 7-14 with 1,796 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.
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First Published: Wed, Jul 16 2008. 11 45 AM IST