Skip to main content

News Interest in Ferguson Report Displays Racial Divide

Interest in news coverage of the Department of Justice's report on racism in the Ferguson police department broke along both racial and political lines, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Roughly four in 10 blacks (42%) followed the news of the report very closely, while only 18% of whites, and an even smaller percentage of Hispanics (13%) said they did. Almost half of self-described liberal Democrats (46%) paid close attention, compared to 29% of those who identified themselves as conservative Republicans.

Two other big stories, Hillary Clinton's emails and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress, also broke strongly along party lines, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.

Not a big surprise since Republicans have been the ones pushing for a full accounting of the emails and it was Republican House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) who asked Netanyahu to speak, with many Democrats criticizing the invitation — President Obama was not informed in advance of the head of state's invitation — and some even boycotting the speech.

According to Pew, 34% of Republicans said they followed "very closely" reports of Clinton's use of a private email address while Secretary of State, to just 16% of Democrats who said they followed such reports. For the Netanyahu story, a similar 35% of Republicans followed very closely, while only 18% of Democrats said they did.

The survey was conducted March 5-8 among 1,000 adults, 18-plus. One caveat for the political breakdowns is the relatively small sample size — 228 Republicans and 270 Democrats — which translates to a margin of error of plus or minus 7.5 percentage points for Republicans and 6.9 percentage points for Democrats. The margin of error for the entire sample is 3.6 percentage points. All of those are with a 95% level of confidence, which means with repeated studies, 95% of those would be expected to yield similar results.