Now that the tumult over the decision by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown has begun to subside, the Washington Post and ABC News commissioned a poll to determine what people across the country think about the choice, and the survey resulted in some surprising numbers.
By a margin of 48 to 45 percent, this telephone poll conducted November 25-26 and 28-30 among a random national sample of 1,011 adults -- including users of both conventional and cellular phones – determined that more people approve of the grand jury's action than Barack Obama's handling of the situation.
On the other hand, the president's handling of the Missouri incident is the opposite: down 13 points, 39 to 52 percent, the same as the unpopular stance taken by the local police and other authorities.
The first poll question got right to the heart of the matter:
As you may know, a grand jury has decided not to bring criminal charges against a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, over the shooting of an unarmed black teenager last summer.
Do you approve or disapprove of the grand jury’s decision not to charge the police officer?
The first group listed in the survey is registered voters, 33 percent of whom strongly agreed and 15 percent somewhat approved.
On the other side of the issue, 14 percent somewhat disagreed with the question while 31 percent strongly disapproved.
When grouped by party affiliation, only 27 percent of the Democrats agreed with the grand jury's decision and 68 percent expressed their disapproval.
Meanwhile, 76 percent of the Republicans polled agreed with the grand jury, and 18 percent disapproved.
Perhaps the most interesting statistic in this section of the poll came from Independents, 50 percent of whom approved of the decision while 41 percent disagreed.
Also, 29 percent of liberals, 47 percent of moderates and 63 percent of conservatives approved of the grand jury's ruling.
Men and women split almost evenly on the question, while 58 percent of Whites agreed with the grand jury and 85 percent of African-Americans disapproved.
Age also led to an interesting spread of statistics, with 57 percent of people 18 to 39 years old slamming the ruling, and 62 percent of those 65 years of age and older agreeing with it.
Each responder's education was spread evenly regarding the question, and 57 percent of people in households making less than $50,000 per year stated their disapproval while those bringing in $100,000 or more agreed with the decision.
The second question was: “Would you approve or disapprove of the federal government bringing civil rights charges against the police officer?”
The response was split very evenly, as 48 percent of those polled agreed with that possibility, and 47 percent disapproved.
In addition, 57 percent of Whites disagreed with that concept while 85 percent of African-Americans and 67 percent of Hispanics approved.
Also interesting was the response of Democrats, 73 percent of whom agreed with the idea, and Republicans, of whom 81 percent disapproved.
The third question also resulted in interesting statistics: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the police and other local authorities have handled the protests in Ferguson?”
When separated by party and ideology, the results indicated that only 28 percent of liberal Democrats gave a positive answer to the question, a sharp divide between them and the 51 percent of conservative Republicans who agreed.
As one might expect, 70 percent of African-Americans and 55 percent of Hispanics gave the authorities poor marks.
In almost every other category -- including age, sex, education and household income -- approval of the actions by the police didn't draw any ratings higher than 50 percent.
Finally, people were asked: “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama has handled this issue?”
It came as no surprise that African-Americans agreed with this subject the most, 63 percent of whom favored the actions by the Democratic occupant of the White House.
Once again, fewer than 50 percent of individuals regardless of age, sex and education affirmed Obama's role in the Ferguson situation.
As with most surveys, this poll had a margin of error -- plus or minus 3.5 percent -- so some of the results should be viewed with a skeptical eye, even though the overall results brought bad news for liberal Democrats.