Blacks and whites nationally have different opinions about the response of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to the events that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 9.
The latest New York Times/CBS News Poll also finds a racial divide in reactions to President Barack Obama’s approach to the situation.
Last week, Nixon ordered the highway patrol to take over security and crowd control in Ferguson, where criticism about excessive use of force by the local police increased as protests deteriorated into violence. As the unrest continued in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, Nixon on Saturday declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew.
The governor deployed the Missouri National Guard on Monday to help control the disorder, which continued to escalate.
The poll found that only a quarter of blacks nationally are satisfied with Nixon’s actions, while nearly half said Nixon’s performance in the aftermath of the shooting was not satisfactory.
In contrast, whites were divided: a third were satisfied and a third dissatisfied.
Although Nixon is a Democrat, nationally he has just as much support from white Republicans as from white Democrats. His actions in the wake of Michael Brown’s death are backed by 37 percent of white Republicans, with 29 percent expressing displeasure. White Democrats are similar: 36 percent regarded Nixon’s response to the events in Ferguson in a positive light while 33 percent were dissatisfied.
Some prominent African-Americans have criticized Obama for his reaction to the violence in Ferguson, primarily for his dispassionate remarks.
However, the Times/CBS News poll indicates that most black Americans continue to strongly support the president. Sixty percent of the blacks surveyed said they were satisfied with Obama’s response to the situation, and 20 percent said they were dissatisfied.
In contrast, whites were closely split in their assessment of Obama’s reaction, with 35 percent positive and 39 percent displeased. As is usually the case when it comes to an assessment of Obama, whites fell along party lines: 59 percent of Democrats were satisfied and 52 percent of Republicans were dissatisfied.
The nationwide telephone poll was conducted using landlines and cellphones Tuesday and Wednesday with 1,025 adults. For purposes of analysis, blacks were oversampled in this poll. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 5 percentage points for white respondents and 8 points for black respondents.