Politics

Obama Gets Poor Poll Ratings For Ferguson Problem

Photo of Neil Munro
Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Only 60 percent of African Americans are pleased with President Barack Obama’s handling of the Ferguson shooting and riots, according to a new poll.

The new poll also showed that only 61 percent of Democrats rate his performance positively.

Twenty percent of African-Americans, and 16 percent of Democrats, give a negative rating to his handling of the Ferguson drama, much of which has taken place during his vacation in Martha’s Vinyard.

Nationally, only 41 percent of Americans are satisfied, 34 percent are dissatisfied and 25 percent don’t have an opinion, according to the poll of 1,025 Americans by CBS and The New York Times. The poll was conducted Aug. 19 and 20.

Overall, 35 percent of whites are satisfied with his reaction, which is slightly less than the 39 percent who are dissatisfied, and the 25 percent who don’t know or care much about the issue. The negative score among whites of minus 4 percent isn’t much of a problem for Obama, partly because his approval ratings among whites is already below 40 percent.

Obama, however, is doing better than Missouri’s Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon.

Nixon’s rating on the Ferguson problem is 34 positive and 33 negative among all Americans, according to the poll.

Among African-Americans, Nixon gets only 24 percent approval, 49 percent disapproval. That’s 36 points below Obama’s relatively poor 60 percent rating.

Since the Aug. 9 shooting of a young black man by the white cop, under circumstances that are still unclear, Obama has worked closely with Al Sharpton and has held a phone call with roughly 1,000 African-American politicians and local leaders.

Those leaders have pressed him to spotlight the Ferguson shooting, and demanded he push for a greater federal role in state and local law enforcement.

“People have been dying left and right; it’s time for this president, who I love dearly, to speak up and say what’s in his mind and his heart — that we can’t allow any more black boys, 18 years old and younger, to be shot and killed by police,” Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor and a long-time friend of Obama, told The Washington Post.

These demands are important, because Obama needs the cooperation of African-American leaders, and high levels of support from African-American voters, to keep a Democratic majority in the Senate during the November election.

But Obama has repeatedly complained this year about the low turnout by African-Americans and other Democrats in mid-term elections.

He’s even described the problem as a “congenital disease” among African-Americans and other Democratic supporters.

“On every issue of importance, Democrats actually have the better argument, and we have majority opinion behind us,” he said at an April 9 fundraiser in Texas.

“But we have this congenital disease, which is in midterm elections we don’t vote at the same rates,” he complained.

“Our voters are younger, more unmarried women, more African American and Latino voters.  They get excited about general elections; they don’t get as excited about midterm elections.”

“So I’ll just close by saying that Democrats have a lot of good qualities,” he said July 23 at a fundraiser in California. “We do have a congenital defect, and that is we do not vote during midterm elections… I need everybody here to have as great a sense of urgency about these midterms as you had about my election in 2008, or my election in 2012.”

“We do have one congenital disease, which is we’re not very good during off-year elections,” he said at a July 9 fundraiser in Colorado.

“We don’t think it’s flashy enough — I don’t know.  There aren’t enough celebrities involved?  I mean, I don’t know what’s going on, but a lot of times we don’t vote at the same rates. We don’t pay attention,” he complained.

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