This one comes from Gallup. It examines how black and white voters affiliated with the two major political parties describe their overall quality of life during the Obama presidency. In a series of surveys conducted between 2008 and this year, this is what Gallup found:
A lot in the chart above is interesting. But certainly one matter of note is the way black Democrats described their lives in more positive terms — Gallup's word is "thriving" — than their respective white political counterparts from 2008 (when Obama was first running for president and when an economic crisis hit in the latter portion of the year) through 2012.
In fact, it wasn't until Gallup researchers checked in between 2013 and this year that this pattern changed. And even the change can't be described as decidedly grim. The share of black Americans across the political spectrum who described themselves as "thriving" fell between 2013 and 2015 from the all-time Obama-era highs reported between 2011 and 2012. Still, today, a larger share of both black Republicans and Democrats described themselves as thriving in 2015 than did so in 2008, when Obama was first elected.
Also noteworthy in Gallup's new well-being data is that, for the first time since 2008, the share of white Americans associated with both major political parties who described their lives as thriving is slightly higher than the share of black Americans in those same parties. And, when researchers looked at the arc of the Obama era that has thus far unfolded, everyone is up. White Republicans have gained less than everyone else, but even they have seen an improvement in recent years. They are now the most-thriving group.
And if you need more perplexingly good news about the Obama years — a period many Americans think of as particularly polarized and perhaps even dispiriting — consider this: When you pull political party out of the equation and examine reports of well-being only by race or ethnicity, every single group saw gains. The share of black Americans who described themselves as thriving grew the most.
So what, you probably wonder, does it mean to thrive?
Well, Gallup and the Healthways ask Americans a series of questions from an assessment tool called the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. Questions on the scale aim to get people to describe how large of a gap exists between their current life and what they would consider the best conditions possible. (You can read more about the scale here.)
Researchers use the answers they get from individuals to develop a picture of an individual's well being. Anyone whose answers produced a score of seven or higher for their present life and an eight or higher for what they anticipate in the next five years was classified as "thriving."