The number of people in the U.S. who worry a “great deal” about race relations is at a record high: 42 percent, according to a Gallup poll released today (March 15).
This is seven percentage points higher than last year and the highest it has been in 17 years. While Independents and Republicans are more worried now about race relations than in 2014, Democrats had the greatest increase in concern: 33 percentage points over the past three years. Independents and Republicans had increases of 26 and 17 points, respectively. For this analysis, pollsters conducted phone interviews with 1,018 adults.
As the poll states, this concern hit an all-time low in 2010—the beginning of Barack Obama’s presidency. Current political times perhaps influenced this rise, Gallop surmises. Per Gallup:
The political success of President Donald Trump—whose comments on racial matters, including his recent feud with Rep. John Lewis, have sparked outrage among some black leaders—could also be a factor in Americans' heightened concern about race relations.
Gallup also attributes this growing concern to the increased awareness of police violence against Black men. In July 2016, Gallup called racism “the most important problem facing the country” that month.
This latest poll is released as protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, demand prosecutors reopen the investigation surrounding Michael Brown’s death in August 2014. Filmmaker Jason Polluck released video footage March 11 that contradicts how former Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who killed the teen, described their confrontation.
“Whether the overall amount of worry about this issue goes up or down in the coming year,” writes Gallup, “will likely depend on how many high-profile incidents occur and how Americans react to Trump's comments and actions related to race.”