New York, July 16 : Americans appear to be racially divided over selecting Barack Obama as the nation's first Afro-American president.
According to a New York Times-CBS News poll, blacks and whites hold vastly different views of Senator Barack Obama, the state of race relations and how black Americans are treated by society.
The results of the poll suggested that Obama's candidacy, while generating high levels of enthusiasm among black voters, is not seen by them as evidence of significant improvement in race relations.
More than 80 percent of black voters said they had a favourable opinion of Obama; about 30 percent of white voters said they had a favourable opinion of him.
Nearly 60 percent of black respondents said race relations were generally bad, compared with 34 percent of whites. Four in 10 blacks say that there has been no progress in recent years in eliminating racial discrimination; fewer than two in 10 whites say the same thing.
And about one-quarter of white respondents said they thought that too much had been made of racial barriers facing black people, while one-half of black respondents said not enough had been made of racial impediments faced by blacks.
The survey suggests that even as the nation crosses a racial threshold when it comes to politics, Obama, a Democrat, is the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, many of the racial patterns in society remain unchanged in recent years.
Indeed, the poll showed markedly little change in the racial components of people's daily lives since 2000, when The Times examined race relations in an extensive series of articles called "How Race Is Lived in America."
Nearly 70 percent of blacks said they had encountered a specific instance of discrimination based on their race, compared with 62 percent in 2000; 26 percent of whites said they had been the victim of racial discrimination. (Over 50 percent of Hispanics said they had been the victim of racial discrimination.)
And when asked whether blacks or whites had a better chance of getting ahead in today's society, 64 percent of black respondents said that whites did.
That figure was slightly higher even than the 57 percent of blacks who said so in a 2000 poll by The Times.
White perceptions, by contrast, improved markedly from 1990 to 2000, but have remained steady since. This month's poll found that 55 percent of whites said race relations were good, almost double the figure for blacks.
The nation-wide telephone poll was conducted July 7-14 with 1,796 adults, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.