Poll: 41 percent say Obama has not improved race relations

Fewer than half of surveyed voters indicate race relations have improved since Barack Obama won the presidency almost one year ago, according to a new poll.

The poll marks a significant change since November 2008, when about 70 percent of surveyed voters told Gallup they felt Obama would ease the country's racial tensions and divides.

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Ultimately, Gallup pollsters classify Monday's numbers as a sign that "high hopes Americans had for race relations" are beginning to dwindle. While 53 percent of African-Americans and 39 percent of non-Hispanic whites told the firm race relations have improved under Obama's leadership, only 11 percent and 7 percent, respectively, said they had improved a lot, according to the poll.

By contrast, 27 percent of African-Americans and 36 percent of non-Hispanic whites said race relations had not changed at all over the past year. And about 22 percent of all Americans surveyed said race relations had worsened over the past year.

Gallup's latest figures hardly portend difficulty for the Obama administration in the coming three years: Sixty-one percent of Americans surveyed said they remained optimistic about the president's ability to improve race relations before his term ends -- a number somewhat reminiscent of the 70 percent of voters who reacted similarly last year.

But expectations have dampened, albeit slightly. Almost 20 percent -- up 12 points from a year ago -- fear Obama will not do enough on this front. Twenty-four percent, interestingly enough, think he might actually go "too far" to "promote efforts to aid the black community" -- a number that remains unchanged since last November, according to Gallup.

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