A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 36% of voters now say relations between blacks and whites are getting better. That’s down from 62% in July of last year at the height of the controversy involving a black Harvard professor and a white policeman. That number had fallen only slightly to 55% in April of this year.
Twenty-seven percent (27%) now say black-white relations are getting worse, up 10 points from July 2009, while 33% think they’re staying about the same. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
African-Americans are much more pessimistic than whites. Thirty-nine percent (39%) of whites think black-white race relations are getting better, but just 13% of blacks agree.
Confidence in the nation’s course among African-Americans soared after Barack Obama’s election. But then several prominent Democrats, perhaps most notably former President Jimmy Carter, suggested that opposition to the president’s health care plan was motivated in part by racism. Only 12% of all voters agreed in September of last year, but among blacks, 27% felt that way and 48% were undecided.
The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on October 4-5, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
Only 21% of all voters now think race relations between whites and Hispanics are improving, down seven points from April and down 19 points from last December. Fifty percent (50%) say they are getting worse, and 24% say they’re remaining about the same.
Similarly, just 16% say race relations between blacks and Hispanics are getting better. Thirty-four percent (34%) say they are worsening and 24% staying the same. However, 26% are undecided. These findings are basically unchanged from December.
Democrats and voters not affiliated with either major political party are more positive about black-white relations than Republicans are. Men are more optimistic than women.
Interestingly, 59% of African-American voters continue to believe the country is moving in the right direction, a view shared by just 27% of whites.
Confidence in relations with Hispanics has undoubtedly been soured by the growing national concern with illegal immigration, which many view largely as a problem coming from Mexico. Support is high nationally for Arizona’s new law cracking down on illegal immigration, a statute that has drawn loud protest from the Mexican government.
Most Americans don’t believe Mexico wants to stop the illegal flow of its citizens into this country and think America’s southern neighbor should be asked to compensate U.S. taxpayers for costs incurred by illegal immigration.
Still, 69% of all voters nationwide say U.S. society is fair and decent, while only 20% think it’s unfair and discriminatory.