June 4th, 2010
10:37 AM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Americans split on improved race relations

A new CNN poll indicates that most Americans think that President Obama is honest and trustworthy, but they are split over whether his presidency has improved race relations.

A new CNN poll indicates that most Americans think that President Obama is honest and trustworthy, but they are split over whether his presidency has improved race relations.

Washington (CNN) - Most Americans think that President Barack Obama's honest and trustworthy, but they are split over whether his presidency has improved race relations in the country, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey indicates that on race relations, the public is divided right down the middle over Obama's time in the White House. Eleven percent of those questioned say his presidency has created a new era of race relations; with 39 percent saying there has been some improvement in race relations since he took office. That adds up to 50 percent who see Obama's track record on race relations in a positive light.

Full results

But 33 percent say that Obama has not made any real changes in race relations and 17 percent say that his time in office has made race relations worse. That adds up to 50 percent who don't think that Obama has improved race relations at all.

Six out of ten people questioned in the poll, which was released Thursday, say the president is honest and trustworthy, with 39 percent saying they disagree. But when respondents are asked whether Obama is "honest and trustworthy enough to be president," the figure rises to 66 percent.

"The number of Americans who think the president is honest depends on how the question is worded - a phenomenon that pollsters first noticed during the Clinton administration," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"One likely explanation for the difference is that some Americans set the bar lower for public officials than for private citizens. A CNN poll taken in February, for example, showed that at least seven in ten Americans thought that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln had lied to the American public when they were president - one indication that many Americans assume a lower level of honesty for presidents," adds Holland.

Regardless of the wording, it is clear that most Americans consider Obama honest and trustworthy - an important reason why he has remained personally popular despite a drop in the number of people who approve of his performance in office.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 21-23, with 1,023 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • President Obama
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Of course his time in office has made race relations worse...there are far more in-the-closet racists in this country than we're willing to admit. It's our biggest collective act of cowardice as a society. Just look around. Birthers. Teatards. The Randroid. Signs of our POTUS in "white face." People who claim he's a muslim. People at rallies with monkey puppets. Etc. His election was like kicking a wasp nest and now the racists are out in force doing everything they can to tear him down and trying (mostly in vain) to hide that racism is a major part of their underlying motivation. It's absurd, but there you have it. Accept it or continue to live in blissful denial.

    June 4, 2010 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  2. Jan

    The President able as he is is one individual.

    He cannot improve race relations on his own.

    I have been very disappointed by the lack of respect that people have shown this President, and I am sure it is because of his colour.

    I was so hopeful when he was elected; but is now astonished how bad things have become.

    It is amazing how grown men can go on TV and make everything that is wrong the Presidents problem, when they know that the enormous spending, debt and deficit was not all built up on his watch. They are only really interested in being in power and not really helping people. How does one explain the Republican philosophy that to provide health insurance for Americans who can't afford health care is a bad thing.

    The atmosphere in this country is made very toxic by these haters on the guise of taking their county back. Who are they taking it back from?

    June 4, 2010 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Anthony Beasley

    Race relations in this country have a long way to go. Until whites let go of the mentality that blacks complain too much – -when there is some things to actually complain about and blacks stop thinking every white person hates them, we'll be stuck here forever. I ride the bus because of racial profiling and I avoid certain areas because of racial profiling. I can get on an elevator and be the only black male in the elevator, and people slide to one side. If I raise my voice, I'm too aggressive. If I say very little, I'm a pushover. White men tend to have a slight hatred toward me. White women tend to have a slight fear towards me. And Black women tend to think I'm on a sex hunt. Truth is, race relations today for me are worse than they were 5 years ago. But I hope and pray to God it changes.

    June 4, 2010 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Kenneth

    Wow ... now President Obama is responsible for the blatant racism that is attempting every possible maneuver to get him out of office. Racism, like ignorance, is not going anywhere and ONE man cannot change the perspectives of people who refuse to accept cultures other than their own. Race relations HAVE improved ... now instead of hiding behind closed doors the idiots hold meetings in stadiums. Its MUCH better to know who the idiots are than to assume they are around.

    June 4, 2010 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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