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Sharp black-white divide on perceptions of Ferguson as clashes continue

BY Domenico Montanaro, Rachel Wellford and Simone Pathe  August 19, 2014 at 9:05 AM EST
Demonstrators display signs during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri Monday night. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrators display signs during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri Monday night. Photo by Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images

The Morning Line

Today in the Morning Line:

  • Poll finds racial gap on Ferguson perceptions
  • Why Obama can’t bridge the divide
  • The last primary of the key Senate races
  • Hillary heads to Iowa

Dividing line: A new Pew Research Center poll finds sharp divisions on the perception of Ferguson based on race. Overall, by a 44 percent to 40 percent margin, Americans say what’s happening there raises important issues about race. But among blacks, 80 percent say so. Among whites, just 37 percent say it does, while 47 percent believe race is getting more attention than it deserves. Nearly two-thirds of blacks think the police have gone too far; just a third of whites said so. Three-quarters of blacks do not have confidence in the shooting investigation, but a majority of whites — 52 percent — do. In Ferguson, violent clashes continued until early Tuesday morning. Two people were shot (not by police), there were two fires and 31 people were arrested from as far away as California and New York, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. When people wouldn’t clear areas, police again used tear gas. Police said they came under “heavy gunfire.” A Getty photographer and reporters from Sports Illustrated, the Financial Times and a war correspondent for the Telegraph were arrested along with a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor.

Blacks More Likely than Whites to Say Brown’s Shooting Raises Racial Issues

Obama says Holder’s heading to Ferguson, urges calm: President Barack Obama, who heads back to Martha’s Vineyard at about 4 p.m. ET Tuesday after a planned day-and-a-half back in Washington, announced Monday that Attorney General Eric Holder will head to Ferguson Wednesday and that another Department of Justice official would be on the ground Tuesday to work with police. The president also showed only measured approval for the order by Gov. Jay Nixon, D-Mo., to deploy the National Guard. President Obama said it was “not something we initiated,” but that if it’s going to be used, it needs to be “limited and appropriate.” He added, “I’ll be watching over the next several days to assess whether, in fact, it’s helping rather than hindering progress in Ferguson.” Holder, for his part, seemed to indicate disagreement with the Ferguson police’s decision to release the video showing Michael Brown, the unarmed black teen police shot and killed, allegedly robbing a convenience store. “The selective release of sensitive information that we have seen in this case so far is troubling to me,” Holder said in a statement Monday. But he also called for calm, urging, “Those who have been peacefully demonstrating should join with law enforcement in condemning the actions of looters and others seeking to inflame tensions.”

Why Obama can’t bridge the divide and more numbers about perceptions: President Obama vaulted to stardom with his aspirational 2004 Democratic convention speech in which he famously declared: “There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.” But his ability to bridge the gap has been tested, and Ezra Klein writes, “The problem is the White House no longer believes Obama can bridge divides. They believe — with good reason — that he widens them.” Klein notes the discomfort felt by some supporters with the president’s subdued comments Monday, but points out there’s a reason President Obama won’t and can’t give the bridge-building speech they’d hope for. The president is simply a very polarizing figure now. People view him through whatever their ideological lens is. Polling shows he has had among the largest partisan approval gaps of any president. Klein points out, “Making matters worse, Obama’s presidency has seen a potent merging of the racial and political divides.” And that racial divide is also clear in a Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago study released Monday on “The Policing of Black Communities and Young People of Color.” Some of the key findings, per NewsHour’s Sarah McHaney, include: 55 percent of black youth reported harassment by the police, nearly twice the rates of other young people; and only 44 percent of black youth trust the police compared to 72 percent of white youth.

Election Day in Alaska – Let the general elections begin! The last primary of the competitive Senate races that could determine control of the Senate will be decided tonight (or early Wednesday morning given the time difference) in Alaska. The GOP Senate primary is the race to watch, as Republicans hope to unseat incumbent Democrat Mark Begich, who has looked surprisingly strong so far in this red state. Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general and natural resources commissioner, is the favorite. His campaign released a poll showing him up 17 points over his closest challenger, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, with Sarah Palin-backed Joe Miller in third, but with double-digit support. Republicans caught a break last week when Miller — who won the 2010 Senate nomination, only to lose to Lisa Murkowski, who waged a write-in vote — said he would endorse the primary winner. Polls close at 1 a.m. ET. By the way, imagine this scenario: Republicans pick up five seats by midnight on Election night, and all we’re waiting for is Alaska… This primary has been the most expensive in state history, not because of the Senate race but an oil tax cut referendum with some $15 million spent in a VERY inexpensive state to spend in. Also tonight: Voters in Wyoming head to the polls, where they will decide the fate of the incumbent governor. Polls close there at 9 p.m. ET.

And so it begins…: Mark your calendars, Hillary Clinton is headed to… Iowa. She is making her first trip back to the Hawkeye State since losing the caucuses to Barack Obama in 2008. She will headline the annual Sen. Tom Harkin Steak Fry Sept. 14, the Des Moines Register reports. Husband and former President Bill Clinton will also be in tow. More pressing than 2016, though, for Democrats, is generating enthusiasm for Rep. Bruce Braley, running to replace Harkin in the Senate. Braley has struggled as upstart Republican Joni Ernst has come onto the scene, putting the Iowa Senate up for grabs and giving Republicans another target in trying to net the six seats they need to wrest control of the Senate.

Daily Presidential Trivia: On this day in 1946, President Bill Clinton was born. What was Clinton’s name at birth? Be the first to Tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Susan Blanker ‏(@SBlanker) for guessing Monday’s trivia: Where is the Thousand Islands bridge located? The answer was: It spans from Wellesley Island, New York to Hill Island, Ontario, Canada.

LINE ITEMS

  • President Obama said Monday that the new Iraqi prime minister needs to form a “new broad-based inclusive Iraqi government” in the interest of “all Iraqis.” He added that the U.S. military will continue to carry out “limited missions.”

  • Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a proponent of gay marriage, wants the Supreme Court to delay gay marriages in the commonwealth and take the case up for review.

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry and his legal team again responded to the indictment against him. He called in to conservative Sean Hannity’s radio show and alleged that the “timing is suspect” and that liberals may be trying to derail his 2016 hopes.

  • As head of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, no stranger to allegations of strong-arming, came to Perry’s defense, saying he has “complete faith and confidence” in Perry, adding he’s “sure that will be confirmed over time.”

  • The New York Times editorial board also defended Perry. The Texas governor is “one of the least thoughtful and most damaging state leaders in America,” the Times writes, but the indictment “appears to be the product of an overzealous prosecution.”

  • Two more of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s 2012 trips may have been improperly billed to her Senate office instead of her campaign.

  • Thanks to Jerry Lundergan’s company, his daughter Alison Lundergan Grimes is paying below market value for the daily rental of her campaign bus, Politico reports.

  • The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released an ad Monday comparing Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst to Sarah Palin, saying that both are “too extreme for Iowa.”

  • The new Democratic Senate candidate from Montana will not be able to use former candidate John Walsh’s leftover funds to help kickstart her campaign, due to Federal Elections Commission rules.

  • Prominent Democratic lawmakers and their staff are becoming increasingly frustrated at the distance Mr. Obama puts between himself and his own party on the Hill.

  • Frustrated with Congress, Mr. Obama is more often taking his “pen and phone” strategy behind closed doors where the administration solicits input and drafts executive orders in private.

  • Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined Scott Brown for a town hall meeting in New Hampshire to help the former Massachusetts Senator gain some clout in his campaign to unseat the current Granite State Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

  • Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is airing a new ad Tuesday that highlights his efforts to prevent companies from outsourcing.

  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee outraised their GOP counterparts in July, with much of that money coming from online donations.

  • A bipartisan group of 15 lawmakers, led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and David Vitter, R-La., sent a letter to the Federal Reserve Monday saying the central bank needs to put limits on its emergency lending authority so as to prevent the future possibility of “backdoor bailouts.”

  • 81-year-old Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, announced that he got engaged. The woman is reportedly in her 70s.

  • Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho says if Mr. Obama is impeached, it’s his own fault.

  • The League of Women Voters and Common Cause have filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to throw out the newly drawn congressional map in Florida.

  • In Louisiana, where the legislature and state board of education have endorsed Common Core, Gov. Bobby Jindal’s withdrawal from a testing contract connected to the standards has intensified the standoff between Jindal and the state superintendent of education he appointed. Meanwhile, parents, teachers and a charter school operator have taken their opposition to Jindal to court.

  • Democrats and Republicans in Connecticut are at odds over a ballot initiative that would loosen the state’s restrictions on casting absentee ballots.

  • In the ongoing saga of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s corruption trial, the former secretary of the commonwealth testified Monday about the instability of Mrs. McDonnell and her flirtation with businessmen that gave gifts to the governor and his wife.

  • Rep. Paul Ryan’s book goes on sale today, and he begins a book tour Wednesday.

  • Former Vermont Sen. Jim Jeffords died Monday. He switched from a Republican to an Independent in 2001, shifting control of the upper chamber to the Democrats.

  • A New Hampshire GOP staffer, whose job was to wear a chicken suit to harass Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Gov. Maggie Hassan, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

  • Keep an eye on the Rundown blog for breaking news throughout the day, our home page for show segments, and follow @NewsHour for the latest.

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Questions or comments? Email Domenico Montanaro at dmontanaro-at-newshour-dot-org or Terence Burlij at tburlij-at-newshour-dot-org.

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the study referenced in the third paragraph. It is from the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, not the Crime Lab as reported in an earlier version.