A new poll conducted by The New York Times and CBS News finds the American public is more sour on race relations than it has been at any time in Barack Obama’s presidency.
Not only that, but the public is just as pessimistic on race as it was after the deadly Los Angeles riots in 1992.
Shortly after Obama’s inauguration, 66 percent of the U.S. believed race relations in the country were generally good. That figure mostly remained stable throughout Obama’s first term, but has taken a beating over the past three years thanks to numerous incidents, such as the acquittal of George Zimmerman, riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, and the recent police shooting in Dallas.
Now, only 26 percent of Americans believe race relations are generally good, and 69 percent believe they are bad. That’s almost identical to the figures in May, 1992, immediately after the Rodney King riots, when 25 percent believed relations were good and 68 percent believed they were bad. Sixty percent of Americans believe race relations in the U.S. are growing worse, compared to 38 percent a year ago.
The decline in optimism on race relations is mostly driven by whites, who historically have viewed race relations in the country more favorably than blacks. In 2015, 37 percent of whites thought race relations were good, compared to just 28 percent of blacks. Now, in the wake of the Dallas shooting, only 25 percent of white think relations are good, just barely above the 24 percent figure for blacks.
The poll also shows a sharp divide in how whites and blacks view their local police department. Overall, whites are very positive about the police in their local community, with 81 percent saying they do a good or excellent job. Blacks are less positive. Only 43 percent say the police in their community are good or excellent, while 34 percent say they are fair and 23 percent say they are poor. (RELATED: Black El Paso Police Chief Calls BLM A ‘Radical Hate Group’)
The poll was conducted from July 8-12 and had a sample size of 1600 people. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points.
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