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Pew Research: African-Americans think race relations have worsened under Obama

Published time: August 27, 2014 17:29
Reuters / Mark Kauzlarich

Reuters / Mark Kauzlarich

African-Americans say relations between blacks and whites in the United States have gotten worse in the Obama era, according to a new a new Pew Research Center/USA Today poll.

From 2007 to 2009, the number of African-Americans respondents that told Pew blacks and whites get along “very well” or “pretty well” went up seven percentage points, to 76 percent. In the new poll, however, 64 percent of black respondents said they have a positive view of race relations, a drop of 12 percentage points since 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in the White House.

Whites also registered a decline in race relations during these time periods. From 2007 to 2009, the number of white respondents who said blacks and whites got along well went up three percentage points. From 2009 to 2014, that number decreased five percentage points.

The number of respondents - black, white, or Hispanic - who said relations between Hispanics and either blacks or whites are going well increased across the board.

Outside of the 12-point downturn blacks registered for white-black relations, the largest swing in opinion was that of Hispanics who believed Hispanic-black relations are going well. That number increased by 17 percentage points since 2009.

The poll also found that 70 percent of black respondents felt law enforcement in the US “do a poor job in holding officers accountable for misconduct; an identical percentage says they do a poor job of treating racial and ethnic groups equally,” Pew wrote.

Only 25 percent of whites said police don’t do a good job of treating racial and ethnic groups equally.

“Just 37% whites say police forces nationally do an excellent or good job of holding officers accountable for misconduct. And 38% say the same about police departments’ performance in treating racial and ethnic groups equally.”

In terms of the major political parties, Democrats were more critical of police conduct than Republicans.

Young people were more critical of police conduct and treatment of minorities.

“By more than two-to-one, those under 50 say police departments do an only fair or poor job using appropriate levels of force (68%) than say they do an excellent or good job (29%). By comparison, those ages 50 and older are less negative in their views: 54% say police are doing an only fair or poor job in this area, 41% an excellent or good job,” Pew wrote.

Of young adults ages 18 to 29, 46 percent of respondents said police do a poor job of treating racial and ethnic groups equally, while 23 percent of those over 65 said the same thing.