June 4th, 2010
10:37 AM ET
5 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. Brenda

    I would no way believe any CNN poll for actual "proof' of what the country feels/thinks.

    CNN asks/polls anyone who answers the phone-–even if they are not able/eligible to vote.

    I will wait to see a Rasmussen poll-–as Rasmussen polls question eligible voters only.

    June 4, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. 60s survivor

    my opinion on this topic!! stupid!! people mostly have their minds made up about race. nothing but their passing from this life will change it. and what a surprise is in store for them when they find out god wasn't what they convinced themselves he was. pointless. all you can do is surpress rascism. laws can contain but not change. evolution maybe.

    June 4, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. gt

    havent seen much improvement in crime either,,, the ciy of chicago sounds like a third world country on the south side....that gang problem must be solved before whites feel like there safe in the inner cities...then race relations may improve...

    June 4, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  4. aneanderthal

    When you have black preachers telling their congregations that all of their money is coming from Obama (not mentioning it is coming from the taxpayers) and that Obama would give them all $50K, if it weren't for the republicans standing in his way, I think it shows how much Obozo has improved relations.

    June 4, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Expat American

    Today in 2010, people like Palin, Knotts and others can still toss around terms like ‘He’s not of us’, ‘Real Americans’, ‘Magic Negro, ‘raghead’ etc…

    However, in 30 years or so, White Conservative Christ Nazi Republicans will be a significant minority in the United States of America.

    I think race relations will improve significantly once this happens.

    June 4, 2010 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  6. ja

    the race relations in america will forever be tainted due to hyprocrisy

    June 4, 2010 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  7. PalmReader

    Quite hard for Obama to improve anything, be it race relations, the economy, or foreign affairs, when ALL corporate owned media has spent the past year and one half harping negetively on everything this man does, isn't it?

    All about making sure big corporations continue to retain their power over the people, right CNN?

    June 4, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Meka

    President Obama, was not ELECTED to improve RACE RELATIONS. America needed GRAVE IMPROVEMENTS as a Country, and we can LIST THEM FROM NOW TO ETERNITY.

    RACE ISSUES ARE GENERATED FROM IGNORANCE . . . and President Obama has NO CONTROL of IGNORANCE !

    JUST ASK THE 'FAR RIGHT' !

    June 4, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. rs

    You know, the problem isn't that Obama made race relations worse. The Republican/Tea Bag party seems to have ignites the latent racism in America in trying to score political points. On the street, I perceive no difference- interracial relations are what they are- and we did just hear of the greatest number of interracial marriages ever. So, it is the Republican and ultra-conservative counter culture at work, screaming about "culture wars", holding their silly racists anti-Obama signs, and ardently anti-civil rights stances (Rand Paul and Sarah Palin anyone?) that are stitting the pot.

    June 4, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Rickster

    Barack Obama is "honest and trustworthy"???? lolol...man, this is precisely why our country is in trouble. You people need to seriously wake up. Barack Obama is corrupt through and through besides being an epic failure. How many campaign promises has he kept? Every time he opens his mouth he's lying.

    June 4, 2010 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  11. GI Joe

    I think with the most of current 70+ year-olds, blacks will never be accepted. 60-70, some accept and some don't. As each decade passes, things will get better, with less prejudice. But until then, we can just shake our heads at the old white southern haters.

    June 4, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Dave

    Wow, just goes to show how foolish and gullible a lot of people are. FYI; when you ascend to the presidency of the United States you are anything but honest and trustworthy. You have made deals that would make people cringe if they knew the truth about them.

    June 4, 2010 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. Steve (the real one)

    How can Obama's Presidency change race relations? Race relations is a matter of an individuals's heart and mind. The President does not control that and cannot be held accountable for that!

    June 4, 2010 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  14. scc

    Finally some positive news about President Obama.
    As an ardent supporter of this great man – my feeling
    is that the racist bigots of our country are using the
    long presidency of Pres. Obama i.e. 18 months
    to crucify him. I did not have any feeling in Nov.
    that 2008 that they would have been so negative
    about our First African American President.

    June 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Joe

    Obama is the blame-somebody-in-chief and I don't consider him honest and trustworthy at all. For example, he was elected on the slogans of "CHANGE" and "HOPE". Where are changey and hopey? He came into the oval office promising TRANSPARENCY", now where is transparency for Obama administration? He promised to create a new era of political bipartisanship when he got into the office. As a matter of fact, the democRat partisanship is getting worse in our political history. When he talks about the numbers of jobs either SAVED or CREATED by his 1.6 trillions wasteful spending, he is dishonest and untrustworthy. How do you know how many jobs you SAVED? Just by guesting?

    June 4, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  16. LG

    It's time to grow up. The whole premise of this survey is wrong.

    Obama is himself - no more a spokesperson for all African Americans than Romney is a spokesperson for all Mormons or Lieberman as spokesperson for all Jews, or Palin a spokesperson for all Alaskans.

    I would hope that our race relations and more broadly - our multicultural tolerance - is improving regardless of who is the President.

    Sadly, much of the far right including the birthers, the anti-immigrants, the English-only, ... are trying to move us in the wrong direction.

    June 4, 2010 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. once upon a horse

    one thing that Obama's election did was bring out the haters that have been hiding under the rocks for years. A lot of them showed up at the Tea Party events and at Palin rallies. The reality of the POTUS NOT being a white male was the main shock that lead to the rise of birthers, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh as race-baiters and the cry of "we want our country back". It really doesn't matter though because these folks are NEVER going to change,,,but on the other hand I think there are more people accepting of diversity now than in the past It's just too bad that some far right conservative extremists will not let it occur.

    June 4, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Michael Wong

    The 17% who say that Obama has made race relations worse are undoubtedly angry racists who are playing the "blame the victim" game. Obama has been targeted by angry racists, who no doubt believe that he has brought this on himself by being "uppity" and refusing to "know his place".

    June 4, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  19. Greg Pottstown PA

    The reason for people thinking he is honest and trustworthy Is because we have no honest reporting by the media. for example Obama regularly said that if we passed the healthcare bill people would see a $2500 drop in cost of insurance. Well I am a small business owner and guess what, our premiums are going up not down and the media will not report on that. So the POTUS is either incompetent IE. not trustworthy, or he lied IE. dishonest. I don't believe he is incompetent.

    June 4, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  20. Fair is Fair

    Unfortunaltely, "The Great Uniter" really has widened the schism between races. Better race relations is one of the few things I thought would be a positive outcome of his election. But it's gotten worse.

    And that is a VERY sad tragedy.

    June 4, 2010 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The U.N. needs to put sanctions on the U.S. demanding that race relations be improved significantly. We have no right to fight wars in other countries claiming their people are being unfairly treated while we coverup race hatred in this country.

    June 4, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  22. Rick McDaniel

    Obama has changed little, in terms of public viewpoint.

    Many people have been angered by the tendency to play the race card, whenever the public disagrees with Obama policy.

    Many people have been angered by ObamaCare, which absolutely was not wanted by the majority of citizens.

    Many people are going to become really angered by the Gulf oil spill, which occurred just days after Obama advocated increasing Gulf oil drilling. Now, we have the worst eco disaster in US history.

    The one group that continues to display racial issues, of course, is the black community, who have become the new racists.

    June 4, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. Anthony

    The election of President Obama has exposed the truth, that 1/4 of our popualtion is still racist. He can do NOTHING to satisfy them, as all they see is a black man who doesnt deserve to be in a "white" house. It so blatant. There is a totally different set of rules for him compared to other presidents. They offer NOTHING but critiques while offering no ideas fo thier own.

    June 4, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  24. Baby Boomer

    FYI folks. A lot of African Americans didn't expect race relations to improve. Historically, everytime there is a significant achievement like the election of the first AA President, folks who have kept their true feeings concealed tin to reveal them. (i.e, The civil rights act, school intergration, voting rights act.,etc.)

    We expected this reaction. At least I did. It's sad and I must admit, it's a little worse than even I though it would be but frankly, this is not news. We have to remember that white men and women (particularly 47 years old and up) are still the great majority in this country and alot of them didn't vote for President Obama. Hence the Tea Party movement, Birthers, a dramatic rise in malica groups, etc.)

    I'd also bet the President didn't expect his election to improve race relations. He's in the White House trying and improve conditions for the poor and middle class in the United States. If he can do that, it will affect the African American community (and the Tea Party movement, Birthers, and malica groups for that matter.) but it surely will not improve race relations...

    June 4, 2010 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This country was in deep "KUMBAYA" mode with the election of Barack Obama. People were willing to have dialogue and they were looking at each other across the races differently- more positively. AND THEN THE GOP STARTED IN WITH THEIR HITLER LIKE BRAND OF HATE.

    Obama has NOT divided this country. The GOP has. What Obama has done is brought to the surface the hidden sickness that is people's heart, and I mean BOTH BLACK AND WHITE FOLKS. Ever hear of Black people hating on successful Black people? Happens everyday. That's how you get your so-called Uncle-Toms, and Jesse Jacksons. But this is NOT this President's fault. People have had to come to terms with their hidden racisms and misconceptions because of his election that's all. You can't blame the man for making you face the ugliness that resides in your heart.

    I love this President. I'm proud that he's a Black man, but I'll tell you if he'd been White and had the same integrity, compassion, and intelligence it would've made no difference to me.

    Those of youthat just can't handle the truth should join the Teablabber Party.

    June 4, 2010 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
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