When it comes to the Ferguson shooting, polls have shown a stark racial divide in reactions to it concerning everything from President Obama’s handling of the crisis to the question of whether the police response to protestors went too far.
Now a new Pew poll finds a similar racial divide on still another question: Whether the over-militarization of police across the country is a problem. This was supposed to be a rare area of consensus. But the poll finds:
Overall, 54% say they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in police departments around the country to use military equipment and weapons appropriately, compared with 44% who say they have not too much or no confidence at all in police departments to wisely deploy this type of equipment.
Nearly seven-in-ten blacks (68%) say they have not too much or no confidence at all in police using this type of equipment appropriately; by contrast, most whites (60%) have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in police department to appropriately use military equipment and weapons.
This comes as Obama has ordered a review of the federal government’s longtime strategy of outfitting local police departments with military-style weaponry. In theory, this should help give some momentum to the developing alliance in Congress between civil rights progressives and conservative libertarians who are calling for reform of police militarization. Prospects for this alliance also received a boost when Senator Rand Paul came out for de-militarizing the police, and even spoke directly to the racial disparities in our criminal justice system in the process.
However, it turns out that there is a sharp partisan divide among Americans on this question, too.
According to a partisan breakdown of the new Pew poll sent my way, approximately 70 percent of Republicans have a great deal (25) or a fair amount (45) of confidence in police departments’ ability to use this weaponry appropriately; only 28 percent of them have little or no confidence. By contrast, roughly 54 percent of Democrats have little or no confidence, while 45 percent of Dems have confidence.
And so, libertarian conservatives who are hoping for bipartisan consensus on police militarization may have to contend with the fact that many Republican and white voters don’t appear as concerned about it.
* CONTROL OF SENATE REMAINS A TOSS-UP: Don’t miss the new overview of the Senate map from the Sabato’s Crystal Ball team, which concludes that control is a toss-up with a higher possibility of Republicans getting the six seats they need:
In every single one of the toss-up states, (Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina), the Republican Senate candidate has not yet opened up a real polling lead in any of them…Republicans have a terrible record of beating incumbent Democratic senators…There is no obvious way for the GOP to gain the six seats necessary for control without taking down some incumbent Democrats…Republicans will need to win three or four of these tight contests…no candidate in any of these six states is up by more than three points.
As they note, if Dems do lose the Senate, keeping the GOP majority to one or two seats will be key to taking back the Senate two years later, when the demographics will be much more favorable to them.
* ENTITLEMENTS AN ISSUE IN IOWA SENATE RACE: Dem Bruce Braley is out with a new Web video that seeks to sharpen the contrast with GOPer Joni Ernst on entitlements, noting Ernst backed the Paul Ryan Medicare plan and has expressed support for raising the Social Security retirement age. The ad pitches Braley as the real protector of the programs.
This comes after Ernst released an ad pledging to keep the “promise” we made to Social Security recipients. Dems continue to introduce Ernst’s “Tea Party ideas” to voters, hoping to move the race out of dead heat status.
* ANOTHER PERSONHOOD AMENDMENT IN COLORADO? For the third time, activists are pushing to get a “Personhood” amendment on the ballot in Colorado this fall, this one an amendment to the state Constitiution that would criminalize crimes against fetuses.
With Dems relentlessly attacking GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner’s general support for Personhood, the question is whether Dems can sound the alarm about this to get female voters out in the numbers necessary to put Dem Senator Mark Udall over the top.
* GARY PETERS UP WITH FIRST GENERAL ELECTION AD: The Democratic candidate in the Michigan Senate race is up with a new biographical spot that emphasizes his longtime history in Michigan and his desire to prioritize helping small businesses and families while ending “tax giveaways to billionaires.”
The spot is in keeping with the broader Dem strategy of emphasizing candidates’ deep roots in their states to insulate themselves against a tough national environment. Peters is leading GOPer Terri Lynn Land by four.
* ANOTHER STEP TOWARDS MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: It’s being reported this morning that Obama has authorized surveillance flights of ISIS over Syria, which would appear to be a significant step in the direction of military action there, which he had long vowed to avoid.
The New York Times adds that the administration has no intention of notifying the government of President Bashar al-Assad about the surveillance, a sign of the administration’s sensitivity towards appearing to be helping the Assad government, whose ouster Obama has called for.
* REPUBLICANS PROFIT OFF ‘CORPORATE INVERSIONS’: Bloomberg News scoops that top House Republicans John Boehner and Dave Camp profited from a corporate tax avoidance scheme known as “corporate inversions,” which Dems want to end:
The two lawmakers reported the sale of stock in Covidien Plc within nine days of Medtronic Inc. saying it was planning a takeover, an announcement that sent Dublin-based Covidien’s shares near a 52-week high. The deal, one of several that have sparked a national debate over U.S. corporate tax policy, would put the combined company’s headquarters in Ireland and reduce its tax rate.
Their offices note this is perfectly legal, but it might help the push to reform the practice. Senate Dems may hold a vote soon on curbing corporate inversions to sharpen the contrast with the GOP heading into the elections.