A Cause For Concern

How would you rate the job that President Bush is doing? Is it excellent, good, only fair, or poor?
A frican Americans are more likely to give President George W. Bush a negative review and oppose a war with Iraq as compared with the overall U.S. population, according to a recent report by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C.

The 2002 National Opinion Poll surveyed 1,647 adults, of which 850 are African American, between Sept. 17 and Oct. 21, 2002. The survey covered a broad range of topics including politics and the 2002 midterm elections, education, foreign policy and terrorism, Social Security, healthcare, criminal justice, race relations, and globalization. Of the African Americans polled, 38.5% felt Bush was doing an excellent or good job, while 59.2% of the respondents gave him a good or poor grade. By contrast, 60.1% of the general population polled gave Bush an excellent or good rating, with 38.7% viewing his performance as fair or poor.

While the black and largely white general populations of the U.S. voted similarly in many areas pertaining to the economy, differences arose when it came to domestic and foreign policy. “On the foreign policy questions, I was surprised at the degree to which there was quite a bit of similarity between blacks and whites, except on the question of war with Iraq,” says David Bositis, senior research associate and political analyst for the Joint Center. According to the report, 19.2% of blacks polled supported the war, with 45.3% opposing and 31.9% uncertain. For the general population, the approval rating was 39.6%, with 25.1% opposing and 32.1% undecided.

In rating the country’s most important national problems, black respondents identified the economy, employment, terrorism, and war at the top of the list; a much larger proportion of whites named terrorism and war the most important national problem, with the economy and employment a distant second. “Very few people were thinking about foreign policy when the survey had been done,” says Bositis, pointing out that the economy, education, and healthcare issues were always mainstay concerns in the decade-old survey.