Fewer See Improved Race Relations Under Obama

Aug 24, 2011 6:02pm

ABC News' Devin Dwyer (@devindwyer) reports: 

As President Obama prepares to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., with a speech at a new King monument on the National Mall, fewer Americans than two years ago say they believe race relations have improved under the country’s first black president, according to a new Gallup survey

Thirty-five percent of respondents said race relations have gotten “a lot better” or “a little better” under Obama, down from 41 percent who said the same in October 2009.  The number who felt relations have remained the same rose by six points, from 35 to 41 percent, in the same period. 

The results are a dramatic change from the day after Obama’s election, when Gallup found 70 percent of Americans predicted race relations would improve. 

Twenty-three percent of Americans now believe race relations have gotten worse during Obama’s presidency, representing little change from 21 months earlier.  

Obama invoked King while discussing lingering social and economic frustration in parts of the country at a New York City fundraiser last month, saying King's legacy is a reminder that progress takes time.  

“What he understood, what kept him going, was that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice. But it doesn’t bend on its own," Obama said. "It bends because all of us are putting our hand on the arc, and we are bending it in that direction, and it takes time.  And it's hard work. And there are frustrations.”

The Gallup poll, conducted Aug. 4-7, has a margin of error of 4 percentage points and includes an oversample of African-Americans. 

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