Rutgers/Eagleton Poll: NJ residents say Garner jury ruling wrong

EricGarnerDec.4,2014
A majority of New Jerseyans say a Staten Island grand jury got it wrong when it failed to indict New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choking death of Eric Garner, according to today’s Rutgers-Eagleton Poll. Residents simultaneously significantly support the non-indictment in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting death of Michael Brown, killed by police officer Darren Wilson.

In the Ferguson case, where Wilson shot Brown multiple times, 45% support that grand jury’s decision not to indict, while 39% say it was the wrong outcome. Sixteen percent are unsure.

Just 26% of New Jerseyans think the New York grand jury made the right decision in the case of Garner, who was restrained in a chokehold, while 59% say the decision not to indict was wrong and 15 percent are not sure.

“The results in New Jersey parallel national polling that has shown Americans support the Ferguson decision but oppose the New York outcome,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “The differing perspectives on the two cases may reflect greater uncertainty about the facts in Ferguson. Those facts are contended, including the question of whether the police officer felt threatened for his life. There is less disagreement about what happened in New York.”

Across both cases, men are much more likely than women to support the grand jury decisions, while whites are dramatically more supportive than nonwhite residents. Garden Staters under 35 are noticeably less supportive of both grand jury decisions than older residents, as are Democrats compared with Republicans.

Results are from a statewide poll of 750 residents contacted by live callers on both landlines and cell phones from Dec. 3-10, 2014, with a margin of error of +/-4.0 percentage points. For these questions, respondents were randomly divided into two groups, with 385 in the Ferguson group and 365 in the NYC group. Respondents answered questions about only one of the two situations. The margin of error is +/- 5.6 percentage points for the Ferguson question and +/-5.8 percentage points for the New York question.