Survey: Obama's Base Focused on Jobs
The Root's annual Rating Obama poll showed high marks in other areas, but a B minus on this key issue.
"The president has put forth great ideas, but has been blocked by a Congress whose main purpose is to see the president fail, no matter what," one black survey participant wrote in an open-ended response.
What Matters Most to Voters
The most important issues to black respondents "leading up to the 2012 presidential election" were creating jobs/reducing unemployment (81 percent chose this option), followed in descending order by reducing poverty, education, health insurance reform and income inequality. For whites the most important concerns were creating jobs/reducing unemployment (65 percent chose this), followed in descending order by health insurance reform, income inequality and education.
Only on health care reform did the president's perceived strengths line up with respondents' concerns. Obama received the most A grades from respondents on national security (57 percent), foreign policy (57 percent) and health care reform (50 percent). Yet creating jobs/reducing unemployment was deemed among their top concerns by 81 percent of blacks and 65 percent of whites who took part in the survey.
Blacks gave Obama mostly B's (38 percent) and C's (34 percent) for that topic. Whites handed out mostly B's and C's on this issue as well, but almost a quarter gave the president D's and F's (12 percentage points each). By comparison, despite black unemployment being almost twice the national average, only 3 percent of blacks surveyed in The Root poll flunked the president on this issue, with 8 percent handing Obama a D.
African Americans who indicated that they were unemployed or looking for additional employment were strikingly optimistic that they would find a job within the next six months (82 percent). This was in stark contrast to their job-seeking white counterparts, among whom almost half (47 percent) were "not at all optimistic" that they would find jobs in six months.
Blacks blamed Congress more for the nation's failure to create jobs, with 63 percent giving the legislative branch an F. Whites also blamed Congress, with 68 percent handing an F to Congress on this issue.
"The president gets low ratings," observed Fredrick C. Harris, a political science professor and director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, "but Congress gets even lower ratings. Voters mostly see them as blocking his agenda when it comes to the economy."