Weeks after President Barack Obama delivered extemporaneous remarks on the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin, a poll released Friday found that Americans — and especially Republicans and Democrats — are divided over the way he’s navigated the thorny issue of race.
According to the poll from Quinnipiac University, 47 percent of American voters approve of Obama’s handling of race relations compared with 46 percent who said they disapprove.
The poll showed a pronounced split along partisan and racial lines. While 78 percent of Republicans said they disapprove of the President’s handling of race relations, 80 percent of Democrats said they approve. Seventy-eight percent of blacks and 61 percent of Hispanics said they approve of Obama’s handling of the issue, compared with a majority of 53 percent of whites who said they disapprove.
A poll from Pew Research Center found a massive partisan and racial divide in the reaction to last month’s acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain who killed Martin last year. An NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll showed the country’s view of race relations had taken a hit in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict.
Obama’s delivered his remarks on Martin and Zimmerman during an impromptu visit last month to the White House briefing room. In his remarks, given on July 19, Obama made reference to comments he made on Martin last year.
“You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son,” Obama said. “Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”