WASHINGTON (CBS DC) — American opinions and perceptions of race relations, opportunities and discrimination are distinctly divided by racial lines, a recent study finds.
A new survey from the Emerson College Polling Society finds that 61 percent of African-Americans believe race relations are getting worse in the United States. As a whole, 44 percent of poll respondents said race relations are not getting better, with 41 percent of Caucasians and 42 percent of Hispanics holding the same view.
The survey, conducted from Jan. 29-31 with 958 registered voters, finds that Americans are split on whether or not minority groups have the same opportunities available to them as Caucasians. Overall, 27 percent said they believe minority groups have more opportunities. However, more than half (53 percent) of African-Americans believe that minority groups have fewer opportunities. About 39 percent of Hispanics and 27 percent of Caucasians agreed that minorities are not on an equal playing field.
The poll collected views and opinions on a wide range of race-related issues in American society.
Viewed in total, 46 percent of those surveyed said they believe the American justice system is biased against minorities, 34 percent said they do believe it is biased and about one-in-five said they were “unsure” of any bias.
One of the more stark contrasts was seen regarding the country’s court system, with 69 percent of African-Americans reporting that they believe the judicial system is biased against minorities, but more than half of Caucasians (51 percent) believe it is not biased.
Overall, slightly more than 40 percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a section of the Voting Rights Act that sought to reduce voter discrimination in certain states. About 35 percent had “no opinion” on the matter, and nearly one-quarter said they approve of the decision.
The survey also reviewed more political topics, with a solid majority (63.2 percent) of respondents saying that the economy is the most important issue facing the country. Health care (22.3 percent) and national security (8.8 percent) followed far behind. “Women’s issues” was ranked last, with only 2.3 percent of respondents citing it as the most important issue affecting Americans.
However, a recent Pew Research Center analysis of social media found that “women” and “education” were the most widely discussed topics following President Obama’s recent State of the Union address. Jobs and healthcare reform were searched significantly less.
Emerson College Polling Society labels itself as a student organization at Emerson College for conducting and analyzing opinion polls on a multitude of social topics.