A majority of white Americans are unhappy with President Barack Obama’s job performance, suggest recent Gallup polling data, and it’s not just because of his race, say political scientists from two of the nation’s top universities.
The latest weekly snapshot of President Obama’s approval rating provided by Gallup shows the president with a national approval rating of 48 percent among all adults. When that number is broken down by racial demographics, however, the distance between the approval ratings of white and non-white Americans is staggering.
Reflecting a weekly decline of just one percent, 76 percent of non-white Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance while among whites that number has remained flat at 36 percent.
A breakdown of the non-white numbers gets even more interesting. President Obama’s approval rating among blacks fell by eight percent from the week before the latest round of polling to 87 percent while it jumped by five percentage points among Hispanics to 69 percent over the same period.
Carol Swain, a professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University who recently authored Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith and Promise and launched a TV show of the same name, said whites are not happy with the president because they feel he is not working in their interests.
“It’s obvious that a lot of white people feel that he is not operating in the interest of the country and they’re suspicious of him and his administration,” she said.
“The administration has taken action, especially through the Department of Justice that would cause some people to fear that there is racial bias that would work against white people whether it’s true or not. They have taken action with regard to voting rights and some other issues that would make them seem suspect,” explained Swain.
In her comments on the polling data she also notes that a desire among people to be politically correct with their responses could belie Americans’ true feelings about President Obama regardless of race.
“The survey shows 36 percent support (among whites), if people weren’t lying it probably would be 20 percent,” said Swain.
“I think there is a tendency to give the politically correct answer especially when you’re talking about a black president. White people don’t want to be perceived as racist and so I think that they’re lying and a lot of blacks I guess, they are too,” she said. “I know some black people that are unhappy with the president but I don’t believe they would tell a pollster that.”
For many black Americans, she added, Obama’s high approval rating is: “All about race and in some ways it’s about racism because they are not holding the president to the same standard they would hold a white person to.”