Published September 17, 2009
Is it racism or an honest disagreement? In recent days, some — including former President Jimmy Carter — have suggested there is a racial element behind opposition to President Obama and his policies. Most Americans, however, don't see it that way: 65 percent think opposition to Obama's policies is based on honest disagreements, while 20 percent say it is mostly motivated by racism.
Black voters are twice as likely to say the opposition is motivated by race (63 percent cite racism as the reason for opposition and 27 percent say it is based on honest disagreements), while most white voters — 71 percent — say the opposition comes from honest disagreements.
Majorities of Republicans (87 percent) and independents (69 percent) think opposition to Obama's policies is based on honest disagreements. Among Democrats, 48 percent say honest disagreements and 34 percent say it is motivated by racism.
Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from Sept. 15 to 16. The poll has a 3-point margin of error.
Rating Obama's Job Performance — Is He a Typical Politician?
Overall, 54 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president — up one point from last month.
Slightly more people disapprove than approve of the president's handling of health care: 44 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. Obama received better ratings on his handling of the economy (55 percent approve) and on the war in Afghanistan (51 percent).
A 57-percent majority of Americans think the president should be spending more time fixing the economy — three times as many people as those who say he should be working on reforming health care (19 percent).
And while almost half — 46 percent — think the actions Obama has taken have helped the economy, nearly just as many think his actions have not helped (25 percent said "hurt" and 27 percent said "not made much of a difference").
Just over half — 54 percent — think the government's increased involvement in private industries is a bad idea, and a similar number — 53 percent — think the Obama administration is proposing too much of an increase in government spending.
Some 27 percent of Americans say they are "getting ahead" financially, up from 23 percent a year ago (22-23 September 2008). Most people say they are holding steady (54 percent) or falling behind (17 percent) — essentially unchanged from last year.
By a wide 60 percent to 27 percent margin, Americans think the country has become more divided rather than more united since Obama took office in January.
And after eight months in office, a 54 percent majority of Americans think Obama is a "new kind" of politician, while a large 39 percent minority says he is a "typical" politician.