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Getting to No You

New America Media, Blog, Rene Ciria-Cruz Posted: Feb 05, 2010

Some mainstream media pundits are a bit skeptical of a Research 2000 survey of self-identified Republican voters. Why? Because it was commissioned by the liberal DailyKos.com . Perhaps its also a reaction that the results of the survey are so extreme they cant possibly be true. Here are some of the surveys findings, which drew heavily from the GOPs Southern strongholds:

63 percent of GOP voters think President Obama is a socialist
53 percent believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be president than Obama
36 percent believe Obama wasnt born in the United States
31 percent believe Obama is a racist who hates white people
24 percent believe he wants the terrorists to win

If DailyKos is too ideological to be a reliable sponsor of a survey, how about the Stanford Graduate School of Business? A GSB study found that racial prejudice fuels opposition to President Obamas plans, specifically his proposals for health care reform.

If you recall, former President Jimmy Carter last September got into hot water when he argued that racism figures in some peoples opposition to Obama. A Democracy Corps focus-group study published on Oct. 16 even contradicted Carter, concluding that racial issues do not affect voters' beliefs.

But think again. The GSB study found that people's implicit racial prejudices corresponded with a reluctance to vote for Obama and with opposition to his health care reform plan. To find evidence for "implicit," or nonconscious prejudice, Brian Lowery, an associate professor of organizational behavior, and two other investigators ran a computer-based test on more than 200 subjects prior to the 2008 presidential election. Individuals were asked to quickly pair "black" names (Aisha, Jamal, and so forth) and "white" names (Brett, Jane) with good words such as "beauty" and "friendly," or bad words such as "evil" and "hate."

Nonconscious prejudice was measured according to how quickly and easily people could identify the "bad" words after seeing African-American names (Aisha, Jamal, and so forth) as opposed to Anglo names (Brett, Jane). A month after the election, respondents were asked how they had voted. Those who made few errors on the black/bad pairings were nearly 43% less likely to have voted for Obama than those with average scores. "As implicit prejudice increased, the likelihood of voting for Obama decreased," explains Lowery.

Later, in October 2009, some of the same participants were asked to rate their attitudes to Obama's approach to health care reform. Others were randomly assigned to read a description of health care reform framed either as being President Obamas plan or Bill Clinton's plan. The result: The respondents were more likely to support health care reform proposals attributed to Clinton than the same proposal from Obama.

Still wondering why the Republican Party has become the party of no?

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