As the nation prepares to honor civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, Americans show little confidence in the state of race relations in the country today and into the future.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 33% of Adults rate race relations in America today as good or excellent, while 15% rate them as poor. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Only 38% of Americans think race relations are getting better. Twenty-nine percent (29%) think relations are getting worse, and just as many (29%) think they are staying the same.
In January 2009, the month the nation inaugurated its first African-American president, 70% of voters said relations between blacks and whites were getting better. By October of that year, in the face of increasing opposition to President Obama's policies, just 36% said the same, with nearly as many (33%) who said they were staying about the same and 27% who felt relations between the races were getting worse.
A plurality (43%) of Americans also don't believe that celebrating King’s birthday as a national holiday helps improve racial tolerance in the country. Thirty-two percent (32%) say that it does, and another 25% are not sure.
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The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on January 12-13, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.
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