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Poll: More Americans think U.S. ready for black president

  • Story Highlights
  • Nearly three quarters of whites believe U.S. is ready for a black president
  • Nearly six in 10 blacks believes the country is ready
  • Four in 10 believe Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream has been fulfilled
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(CNN) -- Four decades after Martin Luther King Jr.'s death -- and just weeks after Barack Obama's win in the Iowa caucus -- a CNN poll finds more Americans than ever before believe the country is ready for a black president.

Seventy-two percent of white Americans and 61 percent of black Americans surveyed in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday say the nation is ready for a black commander in chief.

That number is higher than it was two years ago, when 65 percent of whites and 54 percent of blacks felt the same way. It's also higher than the proportion of either men or women -- 64 percent and 65 percent, respectively -- who currently believe the nation is ready for a woman in the White House.

The top six concerns for both whites and blacks in making their presidential choice this year are exactly the same in the following order -- the economy, Iraq, terrorism, health care, gas prices and Iran -- though blacks place a higher level of importance on all those issues.

But the groups part ways over the issue of race relations. That concern is roughly as important as taxes to black voters this election year, with roughly 41 percent saying it will have a major impact on their presidential vote. But just 12 percent of whites feel the same.

Roughly four in 10 individuals in both groups say that the country has fulfilled all, or at least a great deal, of King's dream. However, they have different views on whether King's dream will ever be fully realized in the United States. When asked whether race relations will always pose a problem in the United States, about half of black Americans, 52 percent, said yes -- and just 43 percent of whites shared that view. When posed the same question in 1993, 55 percent of blacks and 53 percent of whites thought race relations would always be a problem for the United States.

The survey, which includes interviews with 1,393 adult Americans, including 743 whites and 513 blacks, was conducted by telephone January 14-17 and has a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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