A New York Times/CBS News poll reveals nearly 6 in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad and that nearly 4 in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Barack Obama took office said they believed race relations were generally good.
The swings in attitude have been particularly striking among African-Americans. During Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among blacks during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
Only a fifth of those surveyed said they thought race relations were improving, while about 40 percent of both blacks and whites said they were staying essentially the same.
Almost half of those questioned said the Obama presidency had no effect on bringing the races together, while about a third said it had driven them further apart.