Obama and Race Relations: Fewer See Gains, but Hopes Persevere

PROGRESS: As noted, even with a lower sense of actual improvement, 64 percent of adults do see Obama's election as representing progress for all blacks, and that's essentially unchanged from its level a year ago. It was a bit higher, though, in summer 2008, when 71 percent said his nomination represented broader progress.

On this, while blacks and whites largely agree, there are partisan differences. Seventy-two percent of Democrats see Obama's election as a sign of progress for all blacks, compared with 59 percent of Republicans. Also, not surprisingly, people who think Obama's presidency has helped race relations are much more likely to see his election as a sign of progress for all blacks.

EQUALITY: King, born Jan. 15, 1929, declared in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, "Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood." In the view of many, it has not come.

As noted, 37 percent of Americans say blacks have achieved racial equality, up a scant 5 points from 2008 but leaving more than six in 10 who say otherwise. The number of blacks who say African-Americans have achieved equality rose from 11 percent in 2008 to 20 percent at the time of Obama's inauguration a year ago. It's back to 11 percent now.

There are continued hopes. Nearly four in 10 blacks and three in 10 whites think racial equality will be achieved soon. But such are the challenges that one in three blacks, and one in five whites, don't think equality will be achieved in their lifetimes.

Still, relatively few -- 17 percent of African-Americans, and 7 percent of whites -- think racial equality will never come.

METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 12-15, 2010, among a random national sample of 1,083 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents, with an oversample of African-Americans (weighted to their correct share of the population) for a total of 153 black respondents. Results for the full sample have a 3.5-point error margin; for blacks, 8.5 points; and for whites, 4 points. Click here for a detailed description of sampling error. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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