"We have this false idea that there is uniformity in progress and that things change in one big step. That is not the way history has worked," Jelani Cobb, professor of history and director of the Institute for African-American Studies at the University of Connecticut, told AP. "When we've seen progress, we've also seen backlash."
These findings may negatively impact President Obama's re-election campaign.
Racial prejudice has increased slightly since 2008 whether those feelings were measured using questions that explicitly asked respondents about racist attitudes, or through an experimental test that measured implicit views toward race without asking questions about that topic directly.
In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.
"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," said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford University professor who worked with AP to develop the survey.
The poll also highlights anti-Hispanic sentiment as well, showing that 52 percent of non-Hispanic whites displayed anti-Hispanic feelings.