By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst
July 31, 2009 – President Barack Obama’s approval rating among African-American fell in a recent survey conducted by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. The survey indicates one of the largest drops in the president’s approval rating since taking office in January.
Some of the drop may be connected to the timing – the poll was conducted as the controversial remarks surrounding the situation with Cambridge Police Stg. James Crowley and Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates played out.
Participants were surveyed Wednesday to Sunday, July 22-26. The suvey included White, Black and Hispanics praticipants. Obama’s overall job approval was 54 percent, seven points lower than mid-June. The poll of 1,506 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
Among the 124 blacks surveyed, the poll showed Obama’s overall job approval at 93 percent in mid-June and 85 percent in July. Among 1,170 whites polled, 52 percent approved of Obama’s job performance in mid-June, and in July, 48 percent.
During the White House briefing on Thursday, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the president isn’t watching and worrying about falling poll numbers.
“Look, the president doesn’t spend a whole lot of time focused on polling,” Gibbs said. “The president isn’t fixated on the ups and downs in polling. If we were, we’d have quit two years ago this summer, if ever even run for president.”
No doubt the recent comments by Obama regarding the Crowley-Gates incident had an impact. When he remarked the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” when they arrested the Harvard scholar in his home re-igniting the issue.
In a gesture to bring the two together the president invited Crowley and Gates to the White House for a beer on Thursday. Following the Rose Garden meeting, Obama released a statement saying, “I have always believed that what brings us together is stronger than what pulls us apart.”
“I am confident that has happened here tonight, and I am hopeful that all of us are able to draw this positive lesson from this episode,” he said.
Crowley held a press conference, still excited from his visit to Pennsylvania Avenue with his family and told reporters, he and Gates had “a private and frank discussion,” but with different perspectives.
“I think what you had today was two gentlemen who agreed to disagree on a particular issue,” Crowley told reporters. “I don’t think that we spent too much time dwelling on the past. We spent a lot of time discussing the future.”
Gates, who has been measured in his remarks about the incident told The New York Times he and Crowley had come together “through an accident of time and place” and can now take the opportunity “to foster greater sympathy among the American public for the daily perils of policing on the one hand, and for the genuine fears of racial profiling on the other hand.”
Let’s hope this discussion leads to improving the overriding problem; racial profiling.