More Than Half in New Poll Thinks Race Relations Worsened Under President Obama’s Watch


*A new poll has revealed a large disparity in how people feel about race relations since  President Barack Obama took office. It seems ironic that such a historic election, poised to improve race relations, may have done the exact opposite.

But according to a majority of Americans – 53 percent say the interactions between the white and black communities have deteriorated since he took office. 

Looks like a familiar scenario. President Obama’s victory put him in an office cluttered with George Bush’s mess; now Ferguson and Staten Island happens on his watch and the consequence – race relations – has people looking at him all cockeyed.

This looks like another excuse for certain people to badmouth our president.

These stats come from a new Bloomberg Politics poll, which comes at the apex of two adverse grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

Protesters were outraged both times and federal investigations were ordered by politicians. Yet Americans don’t think of the cases as a matched set of injustices, the poll found. A majority agreed with the Ferguson decision, while most objected to the conclusion in the Staten Island death, which was captured on video. The divergent opinions—52 percent agreed on Ferguson compared with 25 percent who approved of the Staten Island outcome—only add fuel to the fire of discussions that surround a video showing Officer Daniel Pantaleo putting Eric Garner in a chokehold because he thought the 43-year-old father of six was selling untaxed cigarettes. Garner could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe,” before he died of a heart attack in what a medical examiner ruled a homicide.

The decision to exonerate Pantaleo came just 12 days after a grand jury had decided not to charge Officer Darren Wilson, who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown to death in August. This altercation was not captured on video, and the prosecutor blamed the officer’s actions on an alleged physical confrontation between him and the teen before the fatal shots were fired. 

Dania Wilson, a 49-year-old white woman from Northern Virginia says the cases shouldn’t be lumped together.

“I think sometimes the media likes to put upon people a theme that’s political in nature,” she said in an interview.

VIDEO: Are Race Relations Better or Worse Under Obama? 

The Bloomberg survey shows a gulf between how whites and blacks view the incidents. Ninety percent of African Americans thought the grand jury should have indicted in the Staten Island death. Just over half of the white people polled felt that way.

On Ferguson, 89 percent of blacks disagreed with the grand jury, while just 25 percent of whites did.

Take a look at the diagrams below in both instances

diagrams of bloomberg poll on race

Grand Hury NYC

Delarno Wilson, 28, a black Georgia resident who objects to both jury outcomes, said he wasn’t surprised that there is division based on race. “Your background is what makes you,” he said. “If you don’t understand the struggle that a person went through, you never truly get it.” Wilson is in the U.S. Coast Guard and said many of his assignments are in overwhelmingly white towns. “I constantly have to worry about how to relate to people. That’s something white people don’t have to think about.”

Read questions from the full poll and see the methodology used at

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