Twenty-six percent (26%) of voters nationwide say President Obama did a good or excellent job answering a press conference question about an incident involving a white Cambridge, Massachusetts policeman and a black Harvard professor. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 46% rate the president’s response as poor.
But Americans are evenly divided as to whether or not the question – asked by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times – was appropriate to ask at a presidential press conference. Forty-one percent (41%) say it was appropriate while 43% disagree.
The president was asked about the arrest of a prominent African-America professor at Harvard and the professor’s subsequent complaint of racial profiling. While admitting he did not know all the details and acknowledging that the professor was a personal friend, the president said the police acted “stupidly” when they arrested Henry Louis Gates.
Beneath the top line numbers is a huge gap between the way that white and black Americans view the situation.
Seventy-one percent (71%) of African-Americans say the president’s response was good or excellent, a view shared by just 22% of white Americans.
At the other extreme, 53% of white voters gave the president’s response a poor grade. Only five percent (5%) of black Americans offered such a negative response.
African-Americans, by a two-to-one margin, say the question was inappropriate. Whites are fairly evenly divided on the appropriateness of the question.
Seventy-three percent (73%) of African-American voters believe that most blacks receive unfair treatment from the police. Just 21% of white voters share that view (Premium Members can see full demographic crosstabs).
Thirty-two percent (32%) of black voters say that most policemen are racist, but 52% disagree.