Nearly a year has passed since the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and that event is now widely seen as ushering in a new period of cultural sensitivity to racism.

A new Washington Post poll confirms this, finding that a large majority of Americans now thinks the country needs to continue making changes to give blacks equal rights:

The Post poll found 60 percent saying the nation needs to continue making changes to give blacks and whites equal rights, while 37 percent say those changes have already been made.
The findings mark a shift from a 2014 Pew Research Center poll asking the same question. Back then, prior to Ferguson, 46 percent said more changes were needed to guarantee equal treatment.

The internals suggest a shift across the demographic spectrum. Even a majority of southern Americans says more changes are needed, 52-43. There’s been a big shift towards seeing a need for more racial change among whites overall (now at 53-44) and independents (62-34).

But Republicans and conservatives differ with majority sentiment: majorities of Republicans (63-34) and conservatives (52-46) say that the country has already made “the changes needed to give blacks equal rights with whites.”

Jamelle Bouie had a great piece the other day arguing that the Ferguson shooting has been culturally transformative. The rise of “Black Lives Matter”; the need for candidates like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to respond to activist pressure on police violence towards blacks; and President Obama’s and (Cinton’s) shedding of caution when it comes to addressing racism all attest to that.

Meanwhile, there are signs that issues with racial overtones could be debated in the presidential race. With bipartisan prison sentencing reform moving forward in Congress, the candidates (in both parties) may offer their own plans, or at least speak extensively to the issue. Same (one hopes) with police reform, and urban poverty. Hillary Clinton has already offered a plan for universal voter registration, aligning herself with calls for maximizing voting access. With Republicans digging in behind policies that restrict voting access in the name of fighting “voter fraud” — something that’s coming to a head in the North Carolina legal battle over whether these measures disenfranchise minorities — this could form a major point of contrast.

The question is whether apparent partisan differences on whether we need to do more to give blacks equal rights could turn all these issues into another area where there’s a cultural gulf between red and blue America, and if so, how the candidates will navigate that.


UPDATE: In fairness, the Post polling team points out that there’s been an 11 point swing on this question among conservatives, and a seven point shift among Republicans (though this latter change is pretty insignificant, given the broader shift). But the larger point still stands: majorities of both groups are still on the opposite side of opinion on this from Americans overall. I’ve edited the headline to reflect this nuance.


* OBAMA RAMPS UP PUSH FOR IRAN DEAL: Today Obama will deliver a speech arguing that it would be a historic mistake for Congress to squander this opportunity to constrain Iran’s nuke program, and that blocking it would unravel the sanctions regime. And:

Officials said that Mr. Obama’s address on Wednesday would be followed by a series of news media interviews that would be shown next week. And the administration plans to dispatch cabinet members, including Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz, the nuclear physicist who helped negotiate the accord, to travel the country outlining its provisions.

Senate Democrats are set to get another briefing with Moniz this week. After that, you may see more of them come out and declare their positions on the deal before recess begins.

* FOES OF IRAN DEAL GAINING NO GROUND: John Bresnahan and Anna Palmer tally up the money spent so far by Iran deal opponents, and find it isn’t turning Dems against it:

Pro-Israel groups have spent more than $11 million on a TV ad blitz aimed at scuttling President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, but so far they aren’t gaining any ground with House and Senate Democrats.

None of the 150 House Dems who signed a letter backing diplomacy have come out against the deal. And yesterday, key Senate Dems came out for it. The likelihood of getting two thirds of both chambers to override Obama’s veto of a measure disapproving the deal is dwindling.

Obama said that if the deal were to fall apart, he would likely face calls within three to six months to use military strikes to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “To the president’s credit, he kept acknowledging the legitimacy of the concerns of the critics,” the person in the room said. “He wasn’t saying that the concerns and criticisms were not warranted…but he was saying, ‘To suggest there’s a better way to do this is not realistic.'”

Republicans who oppose the deal have not meaningfully engaged with the fact that there would be a whole different set of consequences, were Congress to block the deal.

* WHERE HOUSE DEMS STAND ON THE DEAL: The Hill has a whip list, identifying some 18 key undecided House Democrats.

One question: whether any of the House Dems who signed that letter backing diplomacy can be won over by the opposition. If not, then the numbers are there to sustain the veto in the House. And it hasn’t happened yet.

* DEMS GEAR UP TO DEFEND NEW CLIMATE PLAN: The Dem-allied Americans United for Change has commissioned a new poll finding that sizable majorities support Obama’s new rule to curb carbon emissions in major swing states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The poll doesn’t define the plan. But it also finds majorities in all those states believe climate change is a serious problem. The question is whether cultural and economic changes will make climate a motivating issue for the first time this cycle, as the Hillary camp believes will happen.

* AND A GOOD QUESTION FOR THE GOP DEBATE: Tom Friedman suggests one:

“As part of a 1982 transportation bill, President Ronald Reagan agreed to boost the then 4-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax to 9 cents, saying, ‘When we first built our highways, we paid for them with a gas tax,’ adding, ‘It was a fair concept then, and it is today.’ Do you believe Reagan was right then, and would you agree to raise the gasoline tax by 5 cents a gallon today so we can pay for our highway bill, which is now stalled in Congress over funding?”

Silly Tom. The Greatest President in American History could not possibly have supported tax hikes, so Ronald Reagan’s tax hikes don’t actually count as tax hikes, because he was Ronald Reagan, the Greatest President in American History.