PRINCETON, NJ -- Blacks' satisfaction with the direction of the country has surged since Barack Obama became president in January, while satisfaction among whites has increased by far less. Today close to half of black adults nationwide, 47%, say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country. In mid-2008, the figure was 10%.
Increased satisfaction among blacks since 2008 is not surprising given the fact that the great majority of blacks -- 82% in the latest poll -- identify themselves as Democrats or as leaning to the Democratic Party. Partisans typically show greater satisfaction with the direction of the country when the sitting president is a member of their political party. This is evident in Gallup's U.S. Satisfaction trend since 2001.
Across this period, the pattern of satisfaction among Democrats is very similar to that seen among blacks, with declining satisfaction through much of George W. Bush's presidency, and the rebound in 2009. Satisfaction also fell among Republicans during Bush's second term, although it remained substantially higher than that among Democrats or independents. Now, with Obama in the White House, Republican satisfaction is at 10%, well below the other two groups' satisfaction.
Despite the strong influence of party affiliation, it seems that more than just partisanship explains the current level of U.S. satisfaction among blacks, as black Democrats have shown a greater increase in satisfaction over the past year than white Democrats. Today, 38% of white Democrats say they are satisfied with the direction of the country, up from 5% in June/July 2008 -- a 33-point gain. By contrast, 51% of black Democrats today are satisfied, up from 7% -- a 44-point gain. (There are too few black Republicans to enable the same trend analysis by race for Republicans.)
The latest results are from an Oct. 16-19 USA Today/Gallup poll, which included an oversample of blacks, thus providing a reliable basis for estimating the views of this segment of Americans. The historical comparisons are to Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations surveys from 2001 through 2008, which also included black oversamples.
Close to half of all blacks today (47%) say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, as are 51% of black Democrats. These figures compare with 10% of Republicans, 22% of non-Hispanic whites, 38% of white Democrats, and 41% of all Democrats. Thus, of the leading racial and political groupings, blacks are the most satisfied with the direction of the United States today.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,521 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted Oct. 16-19, 2009, including an oversample of 408 blacks, consisting of 102 interviews done as part of the random national sample and 306 interviews with blacks who had previously participated in national Gallup polls and agreed to be re-interviewed at a later date. The data from the national sample and re-interviews are combined and weighted to be demographically representative of the national adult population in the United States and to reflect the proper proportion of blacks in the overall population. For results based on this sample of national adults, the maximum margin of error is ±3 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.