Americans are divided along racial lines but agree that the United States is on the wrong track and the economy is the top priority, according to an opinion poll conducted by USA Today, ABC News and Columbia University released on Tuesday.
Eighty per cent of blacks and Hispanics and 76 per cent of whites surveyed said the economy should be the next president’s highest priority.
Seventy-eight percent of all respondents said the country was on the wrong track. Broken down along racial lines, 77 per cent of whites held that view, 91 per cent of blacks and 74 per cent of Hispanics.
The survey, which largely explored the crosscurrents of race and politics, finds a sharp racial divide over who the next president will be.
Seven in 10 blacks expect Barack Obama, the first African American to be nominated for president by a major party, to defeat Senator John McCain in the November 4 election, the poll found.
Among registered voters, blacks support Obama by 92 per cent to 4 per cent. Hispanics back the Illinois senator by 57 per cent to 33 per cent. Whites support McCain by 56 per cent to 36 per cent, the poll found. Among the 13 per cent of blacks who predict McCain will prevail, racism was the reason most often cited, USA Today reported.
The 50 per cent of whites who expect the Arizona senator to win were more likely to cite the candidates’ levels of experience as the reason. Only five per cent of whites who say McCain will win say racism is the key factor, the newspaper said.
The telephone survey was conducted September 11-14, just before news hit of the scale of the economic crisis that has prompted the Bush administration to propose a massive bailout plan for Wall Street.
The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 2 percentage points for all of the adults surveyed, including plus or minus 3 percentage points for 1,032 blacks, plus or minus 5 percentage points for 543 non-Hispanic whites and plus or minus 6 points for 315 Hispanics.