MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Worries about race relations in America are at a record high, according to the results of a Gallup poll released this week showing over 40 percent of citizens are concerned a “great deal” about the issue.
In a recent poll, Gallup asked citizens if they worry about race relations “a great deal, a fair amount, only a little, or not at all?” Forty-two percent responded that they worried a “great deal” – up seven percentage points since the same question was asked in March 2016. This is the third year in a row worries have risen significantly.
The surge in concern likely stems from the recent high-profile police shootings of black men, Gallup said, highlighting the death of Philando Castile. The aftermath of the July 2016 shooting in Falcon Heights was streamed on Facebook, prompting protests across the country. The officer who shot Castile, Jeronimo Yanez, is facing manslaughter charges.
Gallup also says the victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election could play a role in rising tensions. The president’s campaign comments on racial matters sparked outrage on several occasions, with even Republican officials, such as Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, calling his language “textbook” racist.
By contrast, the early years of Barack Obama’s presidency saw an all-time low in concern over race relations. In 2010, the percentage of those who expressed a “great deal” of concern was 13 percent, about a third of what levels are at now. According to Gallup research, concern rose slowly throughout Obama’s presidency before exploding in 2014, the year Michael Brown was fatally shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, prompting the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The recent surge in concern has been seen in both Republican and Democratic voters. However, Gallup says Democrats express much higher levels of concern, with 59 percent saying they are concerned a “great deal” about race relations, compared with 29 percent of Republicans who are worried to the same degree.
For more on the Gallup research, click here.