It’s sometimes hard to find a question on which most Americans agree.
Has Barack Obama’s presidency been good for the country? Depends who you ask. Has it been good for race relations? There’s no broad consensus.
Is it OK for police officers to use racial profiling? Nearly all young blacks say no, while almost a quarter of whites say yes.
These differences explain the varying reactions to a series of black men’s deaths involving police over the past few months. Wide ranges of opinion have always existed in this country — even throughout the Civil Rights Era and into the time of its first black president.
But one question in our exclusive Rare Under 40 poll found agreement. When asked if racism is a major problem for the United States, most Americans agree that it is, regardless of age and race.
The only dissent for young people was among Republicans, with less than half (45 percent) agreeing. For Democrats, 69 percent say racism is a problem; for independents, 65 percent.
The percentage of young people (at 60 percent) agreeing was pretty much the same as people over 40 (62 percent). More young blacks (82 percent) said race remains a major problem than whites (56 percent).
For many people old enough to remember the ’60s, recent TV news footage can bring to mind memories of the turbulent Civil Rights Era. The majority of people over 40 and young Democrats, independents and blacks say race relations are as tense as they were then. But the numbers were lower for other groups. Less than half of the under-40s thought so.
And seven years after the election of America’s first black president, a Democrat, only young blacks and Democrats view President Obama’s term in the White House to be a step forward for racial harmony. Overall, only about a third of Americans of any age view Obama’s presidency as a positive step.
The Rare Under 40 poll asked several questions related to race, police and the pace of progress in this country. And then we got personal. We asked about interracial friendships and romances — and the differences between young and old was stark.
For example, young people are more likely to have had a romantic relationship with a member of another race. And a larger majority of young people would consider interracial marriage (69 percent) than the older generations (45 percent).
Over the next several days, we’ll explore 24 questions in-depth, taking a close look at the difference between age groups while also weighing key demographic differences such as political party, race and education. It’s also an opportunity to revisit the previous Rare Under 40 poll, which found young people hold surprising views on Obama, marijuana, God and more.
This Rare survey was conducted by Gravis Insights between April 27 and May 5. A total of 2,261 registered voters of all ages were interviewed about several issues using landlines, cellphones and Internet panels. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of ±2 percentage points and was weighted by select demographic characteristics.