Rating Obama: It's Down to Black and White
A poll of more than 1,000 readers of The Root shows that the racial divide persists in how people assess President Obama exactly two years after he took office.
However, blacks and whites hold similar views about the effectiveness of President Obama's education reforms:
* Three times as many blacks (12 percent) as whites (4 percent) rated education as "important" to them.
* Four in 10 in both groups saw either no improvement or a decline in the quality of education as a result of the president's Race to the Top initiative, although a larger number of blacks than whites (38 percent versus 24 percent, respectively) saw some educational gains.
Perceptions of the economy and opportunities within it were also similar in both groups:
* Blacks and whites were nearly in agreement (37.5 percent and 40.6 percent, respectively) that opportunities for jobs and career advancement had improved for African Americans under Obama's administration, compared with that of President George W. Bush.
* However, far more blacks felt negatively about employment opportunities (32 percent) for African Americans under Obama than did whites (18.5 percent).
Maybe it's an indication of the time, or the fact that a black man is in the White House, but just 4.5 percent of African-American respondents to our survey listed civil rights policy as a priority. Just 1 percent of whites rated civil rights as important.
On programs that directly benefit African Americans -- a subject that the Obama administration has considered sensitive -- a small majority of whites (52 percent) backed the $850 million package of support for historically black colleges and universities. Of course, black support for this program was significantly stronger (85.6 percent).
The survey was conducted online between Jan. 14 and Jan. 16. Participants were self-selecting, which means the results are not as scientifically verifiable as a random survey. The survey was closed after the goal of 1,000 respondents was exceeded. Of the 1,006 participants, 421 identified themselves as African American; 386 identified as white; 41 indicated that they were Hispanic (which can be of any race); 15 identified as Asian; 58 said they were of mixed racial background; and the rest either indicated another race, no race or did not answer the question.
Joel Dreyfuss is managing editor of The Root.