Can I say IBTL in my own thread? I'm sure this will get heated/stupid quickly.
The black-white divide in Obama's popularity
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
04/28/09 10:52 PM
his 100th day in office, Barack Obama enjoys high job approval ratings,
no matter what poll you consult. But if a new survey by the New York
Times is accurate, the president and some of his policies are
significantly less popular with white Americans than with black
Americans, and his sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some
of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually
Asked whether their opinion of the president is favorable or
unfavorable, 49 percent of whites in the Times poll say they have a
favorable opinion of Obama. Among blacks the number is 80 percent.
Twenty-one percent of whites say their view of the president is
unfavorable, while the number of blacks with unfavorable opinions of
Obama is too small to measure.
Those opinion differences are clear in the traditional "right
track-wrong track" question, a key indicator of the public's mood.
Thirty-four percent of whites say the country is headed in the right
direction, while 56 percent believe it is "seriously off track." For
black Americans, 70 percent say the country is headed in the right
direction, with just 23 percent saying it is off track. (According to
the U.S. Census, blacks make up about 13 percent of the population,
while whites make up about 80 percent. The Times poll divided
respondents into black and white, with no other groups reported.)
On the economy, 55 percent of whites in the poll say they approve of
the way the president is handling the issue. Among blacks, the number
is 91 percent. Thirty-six percent of whites disapprove of Obama's
economic performance, while just two percent of blacks disapprove.
Blacks also have a more positive view than whites of the Obama
economy overall. Twenty-seven percent of black respondents say the
economy is "very good" or "fairly good," while 34 percent rate it
"fairly bad" and 39 percent rate it "very bad." Among whites, just 10
percent call the economy "fairly good" (none say it is "very good"),
while 42 percent say it is "fairly bad" and 47 percent say it is "very
bad." In addition, 41 percent of blacks say the economy is getting
better, while just 24 percent of whites agree.
On foreign policy, 56 percent of white Americans approve of the job
Obama is doing, while 88 percent of blacks approve. Twenty-six percent
of whites disapprove, while just three percent of blacks disapprove.
When asked whether they have confidence in Obama's ability to "deal
wisely with an international crisis," 55 percent of whites say they
have confidence, while 92 percent of blacks say they have confidence.
Thirty-nine percent of whites say they are "uneasy" about Obama on that
front, while just five percent of blacks share that opinion.
When asked whether Obama "cares about the needs and problems of
people like you," 48 percent of whites say he cares "a lot" about them.
Among blacks, the number is 89 percent.
Asked whether, in the next four years, Obama's presidency "will
bring different groups of Americans together," 55 percent of whites say
yes, while 94 percent of blacks say the same. Thirty-one percent of
whites say Obama's presidency will divide people, while just three
percent of blacks agree.
When asked whether Obama has "started to make progress in bringing
real change in the way things are done in Washington," 42 percent of
whites say yes, while 78 percent of blacks say the same.
There are also striking racial differences in the public's opinion
of Congress. The Times found that just 28 percent of whites approve of
the job Congress is doing, with 55 percent disapproving. Among blacks,
44 percent approve, with 41 percent disapproving.
The Obama Effect even spills over to the subject of Vice President
Joe Biden. Forty-four percent of white respondents say they approve of
the way Biden is handling his job, while 81 percent of blacks approve.
In the final count, 62 percent of whites approve of the job Obama is
doing as president. Among blacks, the number is 96 percent. Together,
the two groups give Obama an overall job approval rating of 68 percent.
It seems reasonable to guess that if Obama's approval begins to slip in
the future, it will likely go down among whites before it goes down
among blacks. A continued high rating among black Americans will be a
valuable pillar of support for the president, should he one day find
himself in political trouble.
Byron York, The Examiner’s chief political correspondent, can be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on
Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts can be read daily at