Amidst new research showing historic disparity in wealth between whites and minorities, President Obama is facing plummeting approval over his jobs agenda among core supporters, including liberal Democrats and African-Americans.
As evidence of growing dissatisfaction regarding the president's handling of the economic crisis, a new Washington Post/ABC poll points to declining support among some of Obama's voter base.
The report explains, "The Post/ABC poll found that the number of liberal Democrats who strongly support Obama’s record on jobs plunged 22 points from 53 percent last year to 31 percent. The number of African Americans who believe the president’s actions have helped the economy has dropped from 77 percent in October to just over half of those surveyed."
(While the poll found broad dissatisfaction with the president's handling of the economy, nearly as many respondents blamed Republicans as they did Obama for the poor economy.)
Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told HuffPost that he "was not surprised" at the increased dissatisfaction among the president's base, but cautioned that "Many African Americans -- and frankly, liberal whites -- elected the president with inflated expectations. Everything that they wanted and believed in and dreamt about they put into Barack Obama. He could not have possibly satisfied [that]."
Dissatisfaction with White House efforts at job creation comes on the heels of several recent events at which President Obama has focused on strengthening the country's "innovation economy" -- promoting growth in the high tech and clean energy sectors as a way to increase American competitiveness and create jobs.
Cleaver, whose group recently launched a "For the People" jobs initiative that will include town halls and job fairs across the country, said that the president's push for innovation and clean technology had not fully resonated within minority communities.
"African-Americans out there were saying, 'What do we have in common with this new, green technology?'" said Cleaver. "Frankly, we needed a season during which we simply educated minority communities in this country -- and particularly African Americans."
With new data indicating that minority communities have been disproportionately hurt by the recession -- combined with an African-American unemployment rate that, at 16.2 percent, is considerably higher than the national average -- Cleaver acknowledged that a specific lack of focus on minority job creation had been "a mistake that we the Congress and the president both made."
Still, Cleaver remained pragmatic: "I think that the president and the White House have been very cautious in their work, so as not to give anybody a reason to believe that they are somehow leaning towards African-Americans. And consequently, many African-Americans are coming to the conclusion that there may be a leaning against them -- which is not true. But reality and perception are not twins."
Polling aside, the president seems to be taking the long view. Speaking at the Alcoa manufacturing plant in Iowa last month, Obama outlined a plan to train workers for technology manufacturing jobs, but acknowledged, "We’ve got more work to do. And that work is going to take some time. The problems that we developed didn’t happen overnight. We’re not going to solve them overnight either. But we will solve them."