WASHINGTON (AFP) - An overwhelming majority of Americans think the next president should place "major" focus on improving US race relations, which most see as "generally bad."
The Washington Post/ABC News poll released Saturday was taken shortly after the mass shooting of white police officers by a black sniper that followed two high-profile shooting deaths of black men at the hands of police.
Out of 1,003 adults surveyed, 83 per cent said the next president, who will be chosen by voters in November, should place an "especially major" focus on achieving better race relations, with nearly half of respondents saying it's an "extremely" important issue.
Only 12 per cent said they don't want the next president to place major emphasis on the issue.
The national concern over race may benefit presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in her bid for the White House.
Some 58 percent of respondents said they trust her to handle the issue, versus 26 percent who have confidence in her Republican rival Donald Trump, who has gained a reputation for racially divisive rhetoric on the campaign trail.
The poll also found that 63 per cent of adults say race relations are generally bad, while 55 per cent say they are worsening.
Just a third of respondents said relations are good, and only one in 10 said they were improving.
In light of the recent spate of violence, President Barack Obama has made repeated calls for racial unity.
"The deepest fault lines of our democracy have suddenly been exposed, perhaps even widened," the president said at a Dallas, Texas memorial for the slain policeman.
"I'm here to say we must reject such despair. I'm here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem."