08/21/2014 06:08 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

HUFFPOLLSTER: Reviewing The Polls On Ferguson, The Police And Racial Tensions


National polls shed light on the broader issues raised by the Ferguson, Missouri police shooting. Fewer Americans are naming the economy as the most important issue. And data journalism is coming for your tarot deck. This is HuffPollster for Thursday, August 21, 2014.

AMERICANS OPPOSE POLICE MILITARIZATION - Emily Swanson: "Most Americans think it's unnecessary for the police to use military weapons as tools for law enforcement, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. According to the new poll, 28 percent of Americans think it's necessary for police to use military weapons and armored vehicles, while 51 percent think use of such items is going too far….Police militarization has come under fire recently in part because of the reaction of police in Ferguson, Missouri, to protesters there after the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white officer Darren Wilson. Officers have used tear gas and armored vehicles among crowds of protesters, and some officers have carried assault rifles." [HuffPost]

Also from HuffPost/YouGov: Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to express distrust in their local police departments, but both have a generally favorable view of police in their communities. [HuffPost]

Obama gets mixed ratings on Ferguson - HuffPollster: "Americans give President Barack Obama mixed, but narrowly positive, ratings for his response in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, a new poll finds. Forty-one percent of Americans say they're satisfied with Obama's performance, with 34 percent dissatisfied and the remaining quarter undecided, according to a CBS/New York Times survey released Thursday. In comparison, according to CBS, 46 percent of Americans were dissatisfied with President George H.W. Bush's response to the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Sixty percent of black Americans, but just 35 percent of white Americans, said they were satisfied with Obama's response in Ferguson." [HuffPost, via CBS]

Missouri ranks near the bottom for racial climate - Frank Newport: "Gallup’s major 50-state poll conducted in 2013 included a question asking residents of each state to rate the city or area where they live as 'a good place to live for racial or ethnic minorities.'...Importantly, residents of Missouri were 49th out of 50 states on this racial climate measure. Overall, 76% of Missouri residents said that their area was a good place for racial and ethnic minorities, while 22% said it was not. As noted, the only state lower on this measure was West Virginia. Obviously, all of this is relative. Even at the bottom of the list, about three-quarters of residents of West Virginia and Missouri were positive about the climate for minorities in their area. Still, Missouri residents were next-to-last on the list….So, what we know is that Ferguson is part of a state whose residents are quite negative when asked if their cities and areas are good places for minorities to live." [Gallup]

More from Ferguson:

Robert P. Jones says self-segregation makes it hard for whites to understand Ferguson. [Atlantic]

Josh Barro wonders why Democratic politicians aren't joining the Ferguson protests. [NYT]

More than 1,000,000 Ferguson tweets were sent before CNN covered the story in primetime. [@conradhackett and Pew]

ECONOMY BECOMING LESS OF A CONCERN FOR AMERICANS - Kathy Frankovic: "he state of the economy continues to be Americans’ minds, and relatively few think it is getting better. More say it’s getting worse than it is improving, even though Americans increasingly recognize that the jobless rate is lower than it was when President Obama first took office. One bright spot: recentEconomist/YouGov Polls suggest that while the economy is a concern, Americans may actually be worrying less….fewer Americans now describe that the economy is the most important issue for them. Only 24% say that in the current poll. That percentage has been about a third for the last year; it was nearly 50% at its peak. The economy remains the number one concern for every group of Americans (though by a diminished margin) except one: Americans 65 years old and older rank Social Security first, at 31%, while 16% choose the economy. And for many Republicans, immigration is nearly as important as the economy. For those with family incomes of $100,000 or more, the environment is a strong second to the environment." [YouGov]


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THURSDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Gov. Rick Scott (R) continues to narrowly lead Charlie Crist (D) in the Florida gubernatorial race. [SurveyUSA]

-Obama's foreign affairs and economy ratings continue to lag behind his overall job approval. [Gallup]

-The Suffolk/USA Today poll of North Carolina highlights the race's massive gender gap. [HuffPost]

-The Chicago Council on Global Affairs finds 70 percent of Americans opposed sending arms and supplies to anti-government groups in Syria. [Chicago Council]

-Randy Yeip uses presidential vote charts to make midterm Senate predictions; Aaron Blake has more. [WSJ, WashPost]

-Polling from Latino Decisions shows Hispanic voters are increasingly concerned about the environment. [National Journal]

-Andrew Gelman responds to comments on his "mythical swing voter" post. [WashPost]

-Ben Terris looks at what happens when pollsters get it wrong. [WashPost]

-John and Jim McLaughlin (R) still can't see another GOP Tsunami coming in 2014. [McLaughlin Online]

-Walt Hickey brings statistics to a tarot card reading. [538]