Racism may play a greater role in the 2012 election that it did when President Obama first won in 2008.
A new poll by the Associated Press shows that racism has actually increased since the last presidential election and could impact Obama's chances of keeping the White House.
According to The Hill, fifty-one percent of those polled explicitly expressed negative attitudes towards blacks, higher than the 48 percent who did in 2008.
Analysis of the survey by AP showed that Obama could lose as many as 5 percentage points of the popular vote because of anti-black attitudes.
It also showed that he could gain three points from people who have positive attitudes toward blacks, resulting in a net loss of two percentage points, according to AP.
Two points could easily win or lose the election between Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney. According to daily tracking polls, Romney and Obama are currently tied with 48 percent of the popular vote.
"As much as we'd hope the impact of race would decline over time ... it appears the impact of anti-black sentiment on voting is about the same as it was four years ago," Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey, told the Christian Science Monitor.
The newspaper reports that many African Americans are upset with what they see as blatant racism directed towards the president, pointing to things like cartoons or political posters that mock Obama as a monkey or lynch him in effigy.
"Part of it is growing polarization within American society," Fredrick Harris, director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, told the CS Monitor.
"The last Democrat in the White House said we had to have a national discussion about race. There's been total silence around issues of race with this president. But, as you see, whether there is silence, or an elevation of the discussion of race, you still have polarization. It will take more generations, I suspect, before we eliminate these deep feelings."
Former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu was criticized this week for his suggestion that Colin Powell endorsed Obama because of his race.