Get access

Living the Dream: Barack Obama and Blacks’ Changing Perceptions of the American Dream


  • Direct correspondence to Christopher T. Stout, Department of Political Science, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1000 Faner Dr., Mailcode 4501, Carbondale, IL 62901-4501 〈〉. 



Our objective is to examine whether positive symbols of progress for the black community, such as Obama's election as president, increase black optimism in the American Dream.


Logit regression and ordered logit regression with predicted probabilities and odds ratios.


Using several surveys conducted between 1987 and 2010, we show that blacks are much more optimistic about the American Dream after Obama is elected to the White House, in spite of their worsening economic status.


Our findings suggest that positive symbols of progress are a better gauge of the American Dream for blacks than objective economic indicators. Moreover, previous racial gaps in beliefs in the American Dream may be attributed to lack of black representation at high levels of government, rather than solely based on differences in socioeconomic standing.