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CBS Poll: Gender Matters More Than Race

Voters are slightly more likely to say that a woman candidate faces more obstacles than a black candidate when it comes to presidential politics even as they see racism as a more serious problem for the nation overall, according to a new CBS News poll. Thirty nine percent of registered voters said a woman running for president faces more obstacles while 33 percent said a black candidate does.

When it comes to the 2008 presidential election, voters say Hillary Clinton has been judged more harshly because of her gender than Barack Obama has because of his race. Forty two percent said Clinton has been judged "more harshly" and six percent said she has been judged less harshly because of her gender. Twenty seven percent said they think Obama has been judged "more harshly" because of his race while 11 percent said he has been judged less harshly.

Still, racism is seen as a bigger problem for the nation in general. Among all adults surveyed, 42 percent of respondents said racism is a "serious problem" in the country compared to just 10 percent who said the same of sexism. Twenty three percent said both are serious problems.

More Americans report having recently heard what they consider racist remarks from people they know than sexist ones. Forty two percent of all surveyed, including 65 percent of blacks, said people they know have made racist remarks in the last few months. Thirty five percent, including 33 percent of women, say they have heard sexist remarks from someone they know recently. And all groups said they are more offended by racist remarks than sexist ones.

There continue to be differences in how voters judge their own voting instincts and the instincts of other Americans. Just 6 percent of white voters say that all things being equal, they would prefer to vote for a white candidate, but 34 percent of white voters say that most people they know would not vote for a black person for president. And 29 percent are not sure that American is ready to elect a black president.

Overall, 56 percent said most people they know would vote for a black candidate while 33 percent said most they know would not. Sixty two percent of all voters said America is ready for a black president but just 50 percent of blacks agreed.

More voters admit their unwillingness to vote for a woman. Nearly one in five voters says that all things being equal, they would rather vote for a man. Fewer than half say that most people they know would vote for a woman for president, although this response may now be intertwined with whether or not people think their acquaintances would vote for Hillary Clinton. Still, 59 percent say America is ready for a woman president.

Read The Complete Poll Results

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,067 adults nationwide interviewed by telephone March 15-18, 2008. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

NOTE: A small oversample of African Americans was also conducted for this poll, for a total of 122 interviews among this group. The results were then weighted in proportion to the racial composition of the adult population in the U.S. Census. The margin of error for African Americans is plus or minus nine percentage points.