Tim Renshaw, a 63-year-old retired teacher in New Palestine, Indiana, who says he was "eased out" of his job and is now living "paycheck to paycheck, penny to penny," is one of the older whites disillusioned with Obama. "He hasn't lived up to very many of his promises," Renshaw said. "I've never felt comfortable that he has the country's best interests in mind; he seems to be more attuned to what he wants to create as his legacy. I'm a gun owner, and I have felt the pinch a number of times during his administration, that he's not too fond of us, either."
By contrast, Monica Berry-Dibb, a mental-health-care worker in Massachusetts, reflects Obama's stronger standing among college-educated white women. She gives the president high marks, particularly for the Affordable Care Act, which she says has produced "a lot of improvement" in the care available to those with mental disabilities. Still, her outlook on the economy remains guarded. "There's not improvement across the board," she said. "There's been some improvement for the lower class, and there's been some improvement for the upper class, but everybody in the middle is still having a hard time. There doesn't seem to be a lot of movement there. The economy still needs more help overall."
Obama remained largely stuck in place as well on the question asking Americans to assess his agenda's impact on their economic prospects. Just 28 percent of those surveyed said they believed Obama's agenda would "increase opportunity for people like you to get ahead," while 29 percent said his approach would diminish their opportunities; another 38 percent said they would have no impact. That represented a statistically insignificant deterioration since February when 32 percent thought Obama's agenda would increase their opportunities and an equal number thought he would set them back.
Among whites, just 17 percent say Obama's agenda is increasing their opportunities; that's down from 25 percent in February. Other than that February showing, no Heartland poll in Obama's second term has found more than 22 percent of whites indicating that Obama is expanding their opportunities. In the new poll, 22 percent of college-educated whites and just 13 percent of those without such degrees said he is improving their opportunities. By contrast, 52 percent of nonwhites surveyed said Obama's agenda is expanding their opportunities, the highest rating of his second term.
The generational contrast is striking, too. Among millennials, nearly twice as many say Obama is increasing rather than decreasing their opportunities; among baby boomers, the results run nearly two-to-one in the opposite direction.
Other soundings produced the same lackluster verdict. Only 27 percent of adults say the country is moving in the right direction, down from 33 percent in February. The share that said the country is on the wrong track reached 59 percent in the new survey, up from 54 percent last winter. (Only 20 percent of whites, compared with 42 percent of nonwhites, now say the United States is moving in the right direction.)