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Black Americans Much More Likely To See Race As Factor In Michael Brown Shooting

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MICHAEL BROWN
A new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows black Americans are more likely than white Americans to see the issue of race as having played a roll in the shooting of Michael Brown. | ASSOCIATED PRESS

Two new polls show Americans are divided over the role race played in the recent shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri. Black Americans are far more likely than white Americans to believe that race played a role or that the shooting raises questions about race.

According to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll, Americans are divided over whether Brown's shooting was an isolated incident (35 percent) or part of a broader pattern in the way police treat black men (39 percent). But among black respondents, 76 percent said that the shooting is part of a broader pattern, while only 35 percent of white respondents agreed.

A Pew Research Center poll released Monday had similar findings. Among all respondents to the Pew survey, 44 percent said that "this case raises important issues about race that need to be discussed," while 40 percent said the "issue of race is getting more attention in this case than it deserves." Eighty percent of black respondents, but only 37 percent of white respondents, said that the case raises questions about race.

Both surveys also found a stark racial divide in how Americans expect the investigation of the officer who shot Brown to proceed. The HuffPost/YouGov poll found that 30 percent of all respondents think the officer will be punished too leniently, while 11 percent expect the officer to be punished too harshly and 20 percent think his punishment will be about right. Forty-nine percent of black respondents, but only 28 percent of white respondents, expect the officer's punishment to be too lenient.

In the Pew survey, 45 percent of all respondents, including 52 percent of whites but only 18 percent of blacks, said they have "a great deal" or "a fair amount" of confidence in the investigation into Brown's death.

The HuffPost/YouGov survey finds Americans are divided over whether the police reaction to the protests was reasonable or unreasonable. Thirty-two percent said it was reasonable, 33 percent found it unreasonable, and 35 percent said they weren't sure.

Respondents were more likely to say that Ferguson residents' reactions to the shooting has been unreasonable than reasonable, 45 percent to 25 percent.

But black and white respondents to the survey tended to look at both questions differently. While white respondents were split, 34 percent to 32 percent, on whether the police reaction has been reasonable or unreasonable, black respondents were more likely to say that the police have been unreasonable, 48 percent to 16 percent.

And while white respondents were more likely to say that residents' reactions have been unreasonable than reasonable, 48 percent to 21 percent, black respondents tended to say that residents' reactions have been reasonable, 42 percent to 31 percent.

In the Pew survey, 40 percent of all respondents said that the police response had gone too far, while 28 percent said it was about right. Sixty-five percent of black respondents, but only 33 percent of white respondents, said the police reaction had gone too far.

Black Americans in the HuffPost/YouGov poll also tended to suspect the media is not being allowed to cover the situation fairly. Forty-seven percent of black respondents said they think the police there have prevented the media from reporting freely on what is happening, while 24 percent said the police have been allowing the media to report freely. Among all respondents, 31 percent said the media is being allowed to report freely and 33 percent said the police are preventing it.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 40 percent of white respondents thought Brown's shooting was part of a broader pattern in the way police treat black men. That number is 35 percent.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted by telephone using live interviews to landlines and cell phones Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 adults.

The HuffPost/YouGov poll was conducted Aug. 14-17 among 1,000 U.S. adults, including 117 black respondents, using a sample selected from YouGov's opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population. Factors considered include age, race, gender, education, employment, income, marital status, number of children, voter registration, time and location of Internet access, interest in politics, religion and church attendance.

The Huffington Post has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov's nationally representative opinion polling. Data from all HuffPost/YouGov polls can be found here.