Obama leaves the presidency with the nation more divided than at any time in decades, race relations at a new low and a surge in atheism, according to a new survey by Pew Research.
The survey concludes the United States is “undeniably different” than when Obama was elected eight years ago, citing such trivia as the introduction of the Apple iPhone during his 2007 campaign and the fact that Twitter was only two years old then.
But things haven’t gone so well on other issues.
“The election of the nation’s first black president raised hopes that race relations in the U.S. would improve, especially among black voters,” Pew said. “But by 2016, following a spate of high-profile deaths of black Americans during encounters with police and protests by the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups, many Americans – especially blacks – described race relations as generally bad.”
Those were the conditions back in the 1990s when Los Angeles was burning with race riots. But about the time George W. Bush was elected, relations improved dramatically – from a 14 percent margin for those who described relations as bad, to a 27 percent margin for those who described them as good.
They remained in that range, or even above, when Obama first took office, until tensions rose between blacks and police.
Relations plunged to points unseen since the 1990s and have yet to recover, the survey said.
Pew reported Americans believe the economy has improved since the Great Recession, and unemployment is down.