MLK Day Poll: Race Relations Improving, Need Improvement

Oswego, NY – A Martin Luther King Day poll of New York State voters finds improvements in race relations still leave something to be desired.

"We still see a wide gap between black voters and white voters on this question," says Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg.

The poll finds 55 percent of registered voters in the state say race relations are excellent or good, while 43 percent rate them fair or poor.

"Siena's been asking this question on M.L.K. day for three years now, and as we go back to 2008, back then it was 48/49," Greenberg says.

So we're up six points on the good side, down six points on the bad side. That's the good news," he says.

The bad news, he says, is that voters' opinions of race relations in the state remain divided along racial lines.

"White voters overwhelmingly think race relations are excellent or good, by a 60 to 40 percent margin," says Greenberg. "But African-American and black voters in New York, 63 percent of them think race relations are fair or poor, only 36 percent say they're excellent or good."

But the poll also shows that disparity is shrinking. Greenberg says the latter numbers were 30/70 three years ago.

Greenberg says it's telling that one-fourth of black voters feel that race relations are going poorly in their state.

"I think the good news is that the trend line is moving up, the bad news is that there's still a ways to go and we still have to close the gap between how black voters and white voters feel on this question."