Almost 9 out of every 10 Americans now see race relations as a problem in the U.S., with a record number of Americans calling it a major problem, according to a new poll.
Pollsters at Monmouth University spoke to 805 registered voters between July 14 and July 16, after the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and the attack that killed five Dallas police officers. The poll was conducted before the July 17 killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
While almost 90 percent of respondents told Monmouth that racial and ethnic bias is a problem, about 7 in 10 called it a major problem, up from 51 percent who said the same thing in a January 2015 version of the same poll.
The poll also found disagreements about the national dialogue on race and the role of Black Lives Matter, the activist group that has staged protests across the country, called attention to cases of black men who were killed at the hands of police. Critics say the group has encouraged violence against police.
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“Most Americans agree that Black Lives Matter has shined a light on important issues of race, but there is a significant split on the impact that attention is having,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll also brought bad news for President Barack Obama's administration and those concerned about the president's legacy. More than half the people polled said that race relations in the U.S. are worse now than when Obama became president in 2008. Only 10 percent of respondents said race relations have improved during Obama's tenure.
The Monmouth poll's results were similar to a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on July 17, which found that 74 percent of respondents view race relations as a problem. That's the highest number in the poll's history, NBC News reported, and the highest since 1995, when 61 percent said they were concerned about race relations in the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial. The former NFL star, who is African-American, was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, who was white, and her boyfriend.