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The Boston Globe


Uncommon Knowledge

Obama, 1; racism, 0

And other surprising insights from the social sciences

Obama, 1; racism, 0

One of the reasons Barack Obama wanted to run for president was to set an example, and it looks like he did. According to research from the University of Pennsylvania, Obama’s campaign—by saturating the country with images of a “mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” to quote then vice presidential candidate Joe Biden—caused white racial prejudice to decline at least five times faster during the second half of 2008 than it had during the previous two decades. Consistent with the campaign being the cause, the decline in prejudice was strongest in states where the campaign was most active. The effect was also stronger among those on the right and those who watched right-leaning programs.

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