Most ethnicities surveyed heartily approve of the president's efforts to promote racial equality in America. Whites are less enthusiastic, with only about half of survey respondents thinking the president is moving at the right pace, and 42 percent, more than any other ethnicity, saying he is moving too fast. Interestingly, African-Americans are the second most likely ethnicity to say that Obama's efforts are moving too fast. Among all ethnicities surveyed, at least one-fifth of respondants feel that the President is moving too fast.
Mexican-Americans and other Latinos are the two groups surveyed with the largest contingent who feel that Obama should move at a faster pace. About one-sixth currently feel that he should move faster. We expect that with yesterday's announcement that President Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayer to become the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, that satisfaction level is likely to increase. We look forward to seeing how this quintessential "American Dream" story impacts the opinions of these other ethnicities in weeks to come, as well.
The Sotomayer nomination will dampen discontent among Latino voters, at least on the issue of race relations. Democrats would be well advised to watch the "too fast" meter among white voters to see if it spikes during the confirmation struggle. While no one expects the Republican Senate leadership to play the race card, a nasty fight where the Sotomayer story loses some of its luster could also drive up perceptions that the President is "trying too hard" when it comes to racial equality.
Brad Chism is president of Zata3 Communications, a one-to-one communications company based in Washington, DC, serving a national client base of Democratic candidates and progressive organizations and interest groups. For more information about Zata3 and ZataPulse polling, click here.