Two weeks into the shooting of 18-year old Michael Brown by a police officer Mr. Darren Wilson in Ferguson, St. Louis and the public (hugely comprised of African Americans) is heavily criticizing the police for closing ranks around Mr. Wilson. A recent poll by CBS News/New York Times revealed a mixed reaction towards Obama’s handling of the shooting incident in Ferguson. Despite the positive reviews outweighing the negative reviews (41% and 34% respectively); a full one quarter of Americans had no opinion.
Provided the fact that the president’s approval ratings are more negative than positive when it comes to a host of issues today, this looks quite a small victory or actually a loss for the White House. One crucial area to target is how African Americans feel about Obama’s handling of this delicate situation.
The poll produced by CBS News/New York Times rates Obama’s approval among the Black Americans with respect to the Ferguson shooting at 60%. Mathematically, this is a clear majority. However, this can be destroying politically considering the fact that the president is black; something that should give him huge popularity among African Americans. According to the latest numbers by Gallup, 86% of the whole African American community approves the president. Considering this feat, the rating of the president’s approach (60%) towards the Ferguson situation means that the black community is less impressed with the president’s position on the situation.
By contrast, the president’s overall approval rating among whites as presented by Gallup data is slightly lower than his approval with respect to the Ferguson incident in the same group (whites). According to Gallup data, 35% of whites approve Obama’s handling of the Ferguson case as opposed to the overall rating of 30% that approve the president in general.
We shouldn’t dwell so much on Obama’s approval rating on the Ferguson case or his overall approval rating. After all, his disapproval rating among the African American community stands at 20% whereas 21% of all African American voters in the country had no opinion regarding this matter. This is slightly higher than his disapproval rating among the community; but it is still too early to conclude anything.
However, it is also quite clear that the careful approach that the president has adopted towards handling the Ferguson shooting incident is not doing him any good among his loyal black people. This is so despite the fact that the African American community is the most interested constituency in what really happened and what will happen in Ferguson.
The Ferguson incident as it seems looks destined to play out for several months or even more as the jury ponders on whether to prosecute the officer in the Ferguson shooting incident, Mr. Darren Wilson. As president Obama continues with his safe play that seems judiciously neutral on this Ferguson matter, it will be very interesting to see how the African community fares on with the case; whether they will urge the president towards taking a stand that is firmer or not.