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Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 01/17/2011

About a third of Americans say Obama's presidency has improved race relations

By Jon Cohen and Peyton M. Craighill

Despite high public expectations that Barack Obama's presidency would improve race relations in the country, barely more than a third of all Americans now say his tenure has made things better in this area, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Overall, 35 percent say Obama has helped race relations; down from 58 percent who, in January 2009, expected them to improve as a result of the country's having its first black president. And blacks and whites continue to have starkly different assessments about how African Americans are faring in America today when it comes to the racial equality championed by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Click here for the full story.

Q: Do you think Obama's presidency has done more to (help) or more to (hurt) race relations in this country, or has it not made much of a difference?

                            Hasn't made       No
            Help   Hurt   much difference   opinion
1/16/11      35     14          49             2
1/15/10      41     12          47             *
1/4/09*      58      7          28             7
6/15/08**    42     15          40             3   

Blacks
 1/16/11     51      9          40             0
 1/15/10     51      4          44             1
 1/4/09      75      3          18             3
 6/15/08     60      8          31             2

Whites
 1/16/11     31     16          51             2
 1/15/10     40     12          48             *
 1/4/09      55      7          31             8
 6/15/08     38     17          43             2
* "...Obama's presidency will do more..."
** "...Obama's candidacy will do more..."

Q: Do you think blacks (have achieved racial equality, will soon achieve racial equality, will not achieve racial equality in your lifetime, or will never achieve racial equality)?

            Have     Will    Not in    Will      No
          achieved   soon   lifetime   never   opinion
1/16/11      42       29       18        6        4
1/15/10      37       31       19        8        4
1/16/09      35       38       17        6        3
9/14/08      32       37       20        5        6

Blacks
 1/16/11     19       33       34       11        3
 1/15/10     11       38       32       17        3
 1/16/09     20       36       23       18        3 
 9/14/08     11       41       30       14        4

Whites
 1/16/11     47       27       16        5        5
 1/15/10     40       31       19        7        4
 1/16/09     38       38       17        5        3 
 9/14/08     39       36       18        2        5

By Jon Cohen and Peyton M. Craighill  | January 17, 2011; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama, Post Polls  
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Comments

Most that I have spoken with would totally disagree with this article. Many blacks feel that obama has created more racial tension and disturbance by his racist actions. They have turned away and are supporting any one but obama. He has lost a lot of the black vote.

Posted by: vageorge | January 17, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Most people think Obama presidency has Divided the country, more than ever!
ObamaCare has divided this country, Ramming
Mandated healthcare on everyone.
Most Americans want FreeMarket Solutions for our healthcare/insurance.
(The whole premise of ObamaCare is government-run, government mandated, government-controlling healthcare services).
When has government ever run Anything efficiently?!

Posted by: ohioan | January 17, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who actually believes that race relations are better because of Obama is drunk with their own rediculous liberalism.
Nothing has improved because of Obama would be a truer statement....

Posted by: lclifton | January 17, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

He has proven the first African American/Black (or other current PC term) president is just as greedy, corrupt, and uncaring about the people as any Caucasian/White president before him. The Middle-Class especially Blacks rallied behind this liar to get him elected. Once in office he called us "deadbeats" and turned his back on us preferring to pander to the rich. Hundreds of Billions of our tax dollars for rich bankers and greedy corporate executives that had milked every dollar out of these corporations they could leaving them broke and unable to pay the huge bonuses they were accustomed too. Never fear Obama here! Mean while these greedy CEO were forcing real workers to take pay cuts and move jobs over seas. Did any of that money 'trickle down'? NO it went for bonuses, parties, and Obamalamadingdongs campaign coffers!
No I think he has set race relations back a hundred years. White bigots have all the examples they need say ‘told you so’! And the Blacks have been betrayed by yet another greedy back stabbing Uncle Tom! Promising reform then pandering to the rich white money and ignoring every single campaign promise they made. Whites who voted for Obamalamadingdong are swearing to never make that mistake again.

Blacks are feeling betrayed and wondering if ever they will find another real leader like Martin Luther King Jr. a true hero.

Posted by: MickPatriot1 | January 17, 2011 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Obama has clearly damaged race relations. My hope is that the damage is not long-term, assuming it isn't permanent.

Calling for a more civil tone in politics while people are calling you a racist or a bigot for disagreeing with a person of a different color's point of view is a little too much to swallow. It's pretty difficult to be civil in such a situation

Posted by: flintston | January 17, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

MickPatriot1: Come on, its 2010, and if you're waiting on another MLK to come along and "lead you".... then you haven't come very far at all.
Stop waiting on everybody to save you, (like waiting for Superman).
There are many, many successful blacks out there (Oprah, for one)....no more excuses.

Posted by: ohioan | January 17, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

It might be that Obama's election has not done much to improve race relations. Although we are fortunate that he is much more sensitive than say, Reagan, and much more eloquent than Bush father and son, his task is to govern, not to make race relations better.
Having said that, what is evident is that having an African-American in the White House has excited the worst racist tendencies among many. There is Rep. Joe Wilson, who infamously interrupted the President during his State of the Union address shouting "You lie!". The following year, Justice Samuel Alito was caught on camera negating with his head and saying "Not true" in reaction to Obama's words, a similar, if less visceral sign of disrespect for the office of the presidency. Of course, a cursory look at Tea Party signs and posters featuring Obama yields many examples of the basest of racism. One in particular comes to mind: "The zoo has an African lion. The White House has a lyin' African" Etc.
A segment of the population of the USA is truly racist. Most of the population in the USA is in denial about it. Proof of racist attitudes towards African-Americans and Hispanics, for instance, are plentiful, yet most of us would rather not confront racist attitudes even at times like this when the truly racist minority makes an effort to showcase its offensive hate at every turn.
MLK had a dream, but we still have a lot of work ahead before it finally becomes reality to its fullest extent.

Posted by: velezh | January 17, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

This poll reflects the ideals or hypocrisy believed by many. But look at the facts. 98% of the over turned convictions from DNA are White or black? Group of kids in all white school beat the crap out of each other, boys will be boys. Group of black kids beat the crap out of each other, prison terms. No this country is far from getting over the racial tensions of even the ‘60s. Yes it has been subverted or pushed underground but very much alive and well. You have racist propagandists spouting all kinds of Black this and Black that while robbing and double crossing the very Blacks they are purporting to help. How you doin’ Jesse Jackson and rainbow push! Made yourself a billionaire while helping who? Yea, nobody! The money you give away is donations from rich Blacks not yours! No wonder Martin Luther King Jr. considered you a blow hard doing more harm than good and kept you at a distance. Jesse the store front preacher Jackson likes to keep the race issue a live and strong, it is how he makes a living. Organizing Black racists to cry about their problems verses using the money to help each other out. Loves to promote White against Black not unity like the great leader he pretends to be representing. Blacks and Whites have lots of problems and until we can work together nobody wins. Jesse Jackson’s racist propaganda continues to reverse the progress of the Great Martin Luther King Jr. whom I marched with and respected greatly! Yea Jesse I heard upfront and personal how much he disliked you!
And this great day to remember Martin Luther King Jr. you are using to promote racism. Shame on you!

Posted by: MickPatriot1 | January 17, 2011 2:26 PM | Report abuse

ohioan - Just because there are more rich Black athletes than white does not mean stupid racist comments have ceased. Just because a few Blacks have made it big does not mean racist put downs have not held thousands more down. Yes Blacks and Whites need to grow up. Ghettos and hillbilly trailer parks have plenty of examples for the racist on either side but is that really what our focus should be? Putdowns and further racism? Verses we are all Americans trying to survive and provide for our families. Quote from George Washington,’ It is with mixed emotions I go into battle with armed men of color, however without their tenacity and fortitude we surely would not have won a single battle to date!’ There would have been no independence, NO United States Of North America without our BLACK forefathers. Who we graciously repaid with a return to salary. Ouch! Racism is alive and well, thanks for helping me prove it!

Posted by: MickPatriot1 | January 17, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

That one third most be the people that insist on playing the race card when ever they don't have an intelligent argument to defend Obama's policies and actions.
Go ahead call me a racist again, I'm getting used to it since I can't agree with Obama on very much.

Posted by: jhnjdy | January 17, 2011 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Why do Cohen and Craighill write such an article? It is such olde news and has nothing to do about what has or has not been accomplished during the last two years, both in the Executive Branch and The Congress. You are either an American or you are not. You can endlessly sub-classify many different things and no one goes unscathed, but why bother - it adds nothing to positive dialogue, or problem solving.

Posted by: hummering1 | January 17, 2011 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I find that any criticism of the presidency is instantly converted to racism by the partisan block formed by the basis of skin color.

The president's quick and often poorly-informed commentary on local issues of no import to his national responsibilities reflects a habit of partisan chirping on issues where race is determinable.

To say 1/3 of the population thinks he has improved race relations fails to address the behavior of those making this so racially polarizing. The black population that stepped forward to advance him to presidency with no basis other than skin color are the ones who have demoted race relations. They have not appeared at the polls in numbers like that since and have spawned more T-shirt and hat sales in the 'hood than P. Diddy. See: http://obamashirts.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/barack-obama-superman-t-shirt/

There is nothing that is celebrated about him other than his skin color at this level. What does that make him responsible for? Nothing, its the same way he's approached the office; hold out on decisions and take no blame for outcomes. Wrong time for the office to be executed so as to remain "politically viable" for 2012. Presidents get dirty by doing their job, Obama. Its time for you to get into the ditch.

Posted by: ascpgh1 | January 18, 2011 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I find that any criticism of the presidency is instantly converted to racism by the partisan block formed by the basis of skin color.

The president's quick and often poorly-informed commentary on local issues of no import to his national responsibilities reflects a habit of partisan chirping on issues where race is determinable.

To say 1/3 of the population thinks he has improved race relations fails to address the behavior of those making this so racially polarizing. The black population that stepped forward to advance him to presidency with no basis other than skin color are the ones who have demoted race relations. They have not appeared at the polls in numbers like that since and have spawned more T-shirt and hat sales in the 'hood than P. Diddy. See: http://obamashirts.wordpress.com/2008/09/15/barack-obama-superman-t-shirt/

There is nothing that is celebrated about him other than his skin color at this level. What does that make him responsible for? Nothing, its the same way he's approached the office; hold out on decisions and take no blame for outcomes. Wrong time for the office to be executed so as to remain "politically viable" for 2012. Presidents get dirty by doing their job, Obama. Its time for you to get into the ditch.

Posted by: ascpgh1 | January 18, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

There was an instant anti-Obama rage that was orchestrated and released even before Obama was elected. Coordinated fabrications decrying imagined "death panels", Muslim socialist takeovers, no birth certificate, etc. sucked up all the political air while Obama scrambled to fix the war disasters and the economic collapse handed to him by the Bush administration.

None of it was true, it was a smokescreen to allow the 20% of rightwing racist extremists to attack an African-American president.

Mostly the same Southerners who fled the Democratic party in the 60's when the Dems supported the Civil Right amendment, they were enraged that "their" country had a Black president. Furious that "their President" was someone that they would have beaten to death for looking at a white woman, lynched because he used a 'whites only' water fountain.

Obama is a centrist, doing the job he was hired to do. No drama, no "your either with us or against us", no "real Americans", just effective governing.

Posted by: thebobbob | January 18, 2011 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The first four commentors are really stupid.
1. Not that many blacks hate obama, you mistaken them for democrats who've abandoned Obama because they felt that he abandoned their cause (no dealing with republicans, extending bush tax cuts, full-blown right-wing policies) Obama's favor among blacks are still the highest.

2. Slowly people are realizing that the real people who set back race relations were in fact people on the right, from race-attack retaliations to the tea party. this reminds me of this.

Racism and the Tea Party, from Fox News articles..
The first African-American president takes office, and almost immediately we see the birth of a big, passionate national movement -- overwhelmingly white and lavishly funded -- that tries its best to delegitimize that president, seeks to thwart his every initiative, and manages to bring the discredited and moribund opposition party roaring back to life. Coincidence?

I think not!

Mikeracist, deny it all you want, since that's what the right is doing. most of the anti-obama rethrotic comes from racism. Obama didn't damaged race relations. Just like the damaged state of our great nation, the right-wing bs, lies, smears, and distort the facts and blame THEIR screw-ups, THEIR follies, THEIR race-baiting on President Obama.

Posted by: SoulStraw3 | January 20, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

President Obama has done a lot in improving race relations! There will always be prejudice people out here...but if we keep the lines of Communications opened, we will not have this probelm a few years from now. Please keep in mind that people love to live in that bubble, and when they are subjected to something different it is hard for them to adjust, whereas if they were born in a world of togetherness everything falls into place!

Posted by: dianeBkht | January 21, 2011 1:27 AM | Report abuse

"Most racial," not "post racial."

That says it all.

When the President foolishly inserted himself into the Professor Gates/Cambridge Police incident in July 2009, he lost all specter of a healer. If anything this unfortunate incident was a matter of class difference (professor vs cop) and never a matter of race, but Obama ventured down the path of racial profiling which clearly this incident never was.

Posted by: mrfr1 | January 23, 2011 5:22 AM | Report abuse

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