Poll: Worries About Race Relations Reach New High

One night after Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, Gallup found that 7 in 10 Americans believed his presidency would improve race relations. Seven years later, worries about race relations has reached a new high.

A new Gallup poll found that over the course of Obama's presidency public worries over race relations in the U.S. have dramatically worsened. By the end of his first year in office, only 13% of Americans worried a "great deal" about the problem of race relations. Now, a few months into his final year, that number has almost tripled to 35%. That number marks the highest Gallup has ever found since first tracking the issue in 2001.

Trend: Race Relations Worries Are Growing in U.S.

Gallup found that the heightened sense of concern of race relations is consistent across all the demographics they tested, including blacks and whites, conservatives and liberals, and Republicans and Democrats. Meanwhile, the gap between so of the groups has grown, particularly "the 53% to 27% 'worried' gap between blacks and whites, up from the 31% to 14% gap between blacks and whites in the 2012-2014 combined polls."

Percentage Who Say They Worry "a Great Deal" About Race Relations in the U.S.
2001-2011% 2012-2014% 2015-2016%
Democrats + leaners 25 22 37
Republicans + leaners 14 14 26
Liberals 25 24 42
Moderates 19 14 27
Conservatives 17 16 28
Blacks 45 31 53
Whites 15 14 27
COMBINED GALLUP POLLS: 2001-2011, 2012-2014, 2015-2016

Gallup notes that while worry about race relations is way up across the board and it has risen as a national concern, it still ranks relatively low among other national issues (which continue to be topped by the economy, healthcare, crime and violence). Gallup also found that Americans now disapprove more of the way blacks are treated, though "a mid-2015 Gallup poll indicated that treatment of blacks had not worsened during Obama's time in office."

Read Gallup's full analysis here.

Survey methods:

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 2-6, 2016, with a random sample of 1,019 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 60% cellphone respondents and 40% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.


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