Taeku Lee

Taeku Lee is the chair of the political science department at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Mobilizing Public Opinion: Black Insurgency and Racial Attitudes in the Civil Rights Era and Why Americans Don't Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate.

Recent Articles

Polling Prejudice

Public opinion on race is often inconsistent. Does political science have the tools to capture all forms of racism?

A young woman expresses her view of the racial situation in troubled Cairo, Ill., May 2, 1969. She was part of a demonstration against a black boycott of white merchants. (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
In the past 70 years, there has been a tide shift in the publicly shared attitudes of white Americans toward African Americans. Some of the earliest public-opinion polls in the 1940s found that an overwhelming majority (about two-thirds) of whites were willing to support segregated schools. By the mid-1990s (the last time questions on school segregation were asked), only one out of every 25 whites held to the same view. Similarly, on interracial couples, polls from the late-1950s and early-1960s found nearly universal disapproval among white Americans; by the 1990s, only a small fraction of whites favored anti-miscegenation laws and a majority actively indicated their support of interracial marriages. Over an even shorter time period, the prevalence of invidious stereotypes of African Americans as less intelligent and less industrious than whites declined between the early-1990s and the mid-2000s. Still, other viewpoints about race have been remarkably resistant to change and, in some...