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Poll: Obama Election Not Panacea to Race Issues

By Jim Meyers   |   Friday, 30 Oct 2009 10:33 AM

The election of the first black president has produced little "Obama effect" on Americans' views about race relations, a new Gallup poll reveals.

The survey posed the question: "Do you think that relations between blacks and whites will always be a problem for the United States, or that a solution will eventually be worked out?"

Back in December 1963, when Gallup first asked the question, 55 percent of Americans believed a solution would eventually be worked out. In the new poll of more than 1,500 adults, that figure stands at an almost identical 56 percent.

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"In short, despite all that has happened in the intervening decades, there is scarcely more hope now than there was those many years ago that the nation's race-relations situation will be solved," Gallup observed.

The all-time low for the "hopeful" choice, 29 percent, came in October 1995, shortly after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder. But that figure had risen to 41 percent by 1998, and reached 50 percent by 2002.

The "hopeful" choice reached 67 percent on Nov. 5, 2008, the day after Barack Obama won the presidential election, but it has now settled back down to 56 percent.

Other findings from Gallup:

  • 59 percent of white respondents said they believe a solution will eventually be worked out, but only 42 percent of blacks feel that way.

  • 79 percent of Americans now believe blacks have equal employment opportunities, the highest positive response Gallup has measured to date. Only 49 percent of blacks agree.

  • Last summer, after Obama appeared to have clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, 56 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll agreed there was widespread racism against blacks in the U.S. That number has now dropped to 51 percent overall. But 72 percent of blacks say racism is widespread.

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