A poll conducted by CNN/ORC and released on Monday just may make you miss the midterm elections. The polling team at CNN determined that the best use of their resources was to conduct a national survey of opinions surrounding the case involving the shooting of Ferguson, Missouri teen Michael Brown. The results are utterly worthless.
Because you’re dying to know just what those results are, here you go:
Fifty-four percent of nonwhites — including blacks, Latinos and Asians — say Wilson should be charged with murder, while just 23% of whites agree. And 38% of whites say Wilson should be charged with no crime at all, while just 15% of nonwhites hold that position.
A combined total of 32% say a Missouri grand jury should charge Wilson with murder, while 25% say he should face lesser criminal charges and 21% say he should be charged with no crime at all.
The CNN/ORC International survey of 1,045 Americans was conducted Nov. 21-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The poll also found that a full 63 percent say that peaceful protests against the Ferguson police’s conduct in this case is warranted, but CNN notes that opinions are mixed on whether violence is also justified. The survey found that 10 percent of whites believe that violent demonstrations are called for while 22 percent of nonwhite respondents agreed.
While it is lovely that the vast majority of respondents do not believe that violence is justified in this case, the number of Americans who are perfectly fine with behaving in an uncivilized manner is disquieting.
This poll is not harmless. While it is silly to ask Americans for their thoughts on a situation in which they cannot possibly know all the related details – particularly if they have been following coverage of this story in the national press – it is also dangerous. This poll propagates the notion that it is perfectly acceptable to prejudge the facts of this case without having access to all the evidence.
This is an impulse in which the average Ferguson protesters have been indulging, and it is one that has been encouraged by the media. It has led to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of property damage, injury, death, and unspeakable damage to the comity that once kept this small Missouri community from tearing itself apart.
But this poll got a few clicks. And that’s the most important thing, right?