CBS Poll: Ready For A Black President?

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As Barack Obama claims the mantle of presumptive Democratic nominee, nearly 70 percent of Americans say the country is ready for a black president, a new CBS News poll shows.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans say the country is ready - up 6 points from March and 14 points from January. Eight years ago, only 38 percent of those polled said the country was ready for a black president.

Nearly two in three registered voters - 63 percent - say that most people they know would vote for a black president. But roughly one in four believe that most of the people they know would not.

Democrats (at 67 percent) are slightly more likely than Republicans (at 61 percent) to say most people they know would vote for a black candidate. Older Americans are less likely to respond that people they know would do so: Just 58 percent of those 65 and older say most of the people they know would vote for a black candidate. By contrast, 70 percent of respondents under 30 years old said those they know would do so.

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Some of the largest differences are by region. Seventy-two percent of those who live in the West say most people they know would vote for a black person for president. Sixty-six percent in the Northeast and 64 percent in the Midwest agree. But the figure is lowest in the South, where just 54 percent say most people they know would vote for an African-American for president. 33 percent there say most people they know would not.

CBS News political consultant Joe Trippi, a Democrat, said on CBS News' The Early Show Wednesday morning that he believes America is ready for a black president.

"I think we are as a country," Trippi said. "I think what Barack Obama's done is every day he's gone out there, proven his mettle, proven where he is on issues and weathered these attacks and everything. He's proven that he is ready. And that's made a lot of Americans say, 'you know what? Maybe this could happen.' I think it's a pretty amazing thing."

Michael Fauntroy, a professor at George Mason University, also said he believes the country is ready on The Early Show -- though he sounded a note of caution.

"To my way of thinking, it's still an open question, though certainly we're moving in the right direction," he said.

Twenty-two percent of white voters and 24 percent of black voters say race is at least somewhat of a factor in their vote. White voters who described it as such chose McCain over Obama in a head-to-head match-up by a margin of 19 points, while they are divided between Clinton and McCain.
Regardless of how they vote, nine in 10 voters - both blacks and whites - are glad that an African American has been a serious contender for president, and nearly half say Obama's candidacy has made them more interested in the 2008 presidential campaign.

Voters are divided as to whether or not the news media have treated Obama differently - half say that they have while half say they have not.

But among those who think the media have treated Obama differently, whites tend to think the media has been easier on him because of his race, while blacks think the opposite. Most voters who think the media has been harder on Obama think this is at least somewhat because of his race. So do most voters who believe the media has been easier on him, though in smaller numbers.

Sixty-eight percent of voters think Obama's candidacy has made it easier for blacks to run for president in the future. But more than half of all voters can't name an African American they would like to see run for president other than Obama. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell tops the list of those who can.

Voters are divided as to whether there are currently enough African Americans holding high political office. Forty-five percent of white voters and 19 percent of black voters say the number is about right. Thirty-five percent of white voters and 71 percent of black voters would like to see more.


This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,038 adults nationwide, including 930 registered voters, interviewed by telephone May 30-June 3, 2008. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. The error for the sample of registered voters is plus or minus four points.
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