Monmouth Poll NATIONAL: PROTESTORS’ ANGER JUSTIFIED EVEN IF ACTIONS MAY NOT BE

Dr. Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Director

NATIONAL: PROTESTORS’ ANGER JUSTIFIED
EVEN IF ACTIONS MAY NOT BE

Most say police more likely to use excessive force on black individuals

West Long Branch, NJ – Most Americans say the anger about black deaths at the hands of police officers that led to recent protests is fully justified, even if they do not feel the same about the actual actions. A majority of the public now agrees that the police are more likely to use excessive force with a black person than a white person in similar situations. Only one-third of the country held this opinion four years ago. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”University Poll also finds that the number of people who consider racial and ethnic discrimination to be a big problem has increased from about half in 2015 to nearly 3 in 4 now. In other results, President Donald Trump’s job rating has ticked down again.

A majority of Americans (57%) say that police officers facing a difficult or dangerous situation are more likely to use excessive force if the culprit is black, compared to one-third (33%) who say the police are just as likely to use excessive force against black and white culprits in the same type of situation. The current findings represent a marked change in public opinion from prior polls. In a poll of registered voters taken after the police shooting of Alton Sterling in Louisiana in July 2016, just 34% said blacks were more likely to be subject to excessive force while 52% said they were just as likely as whites. In December 2014, after a grand jury declined to indict a New York City police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, the results were 33% more likely and 58% just as likely.

            Nearly all black Americans (87%) feel that individuals of their race are more likely than whites to experience excessive force. This is up slightly from 77% in a 2016 poll, but the overall shift in public opinion on this question is due mainly to an increase among other racial groups. Currently, 49% of white Americans say that police are more likely to use excessive force against a black culprit, which is nearly double the number (25%) who said the same in 2016. Another 39% of whites say police are just as likely to use excessive force regardless of race, which is down significantly from 62% four years ago. Among Americans of Latino, Asian and other minority backgrounds, 63% say black individuals are more likely to be subject to excessive force by police, which is up from 39% in 2016. Just 27% of this group say police are as likely to use excessive force in a situation with a white or black person, which is down from 43% in 2016.

“It seems we have reached a turning point in public opinion where white Americans are realizing that black Americans face risks when dealing with police that they do not. They may not agree with the violence of recent protests, but many whites say they understand where that anger is coming from,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

Only 17% of the public says that the actions of protestors, including the burning of a police precinct, sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police are fully justified, but another 37% say they are partially justified. On the other hand, 38% say these actions are not at all justified. At the same time, a majority of the American public (57%) says that the anger that led to these protests is fully justified. Another 21% say it is partially justified and only 18% say it is not at all justified.

Majorities of black (69%), other minority (58%) and white (55%) Americans say that the protestors’ anger is fully justified, but there is some disagreement on the actual actions taken. While there are minor differences in the percentage who say that the actions of these protestors are fully justified (27% black, 17% other minority, 15% white), white Americans (45%) are much more likely than black Americans (21%) and Americans of other minority groups (30%) to say they are not at all justified.

The Monmouth University Poll also finds that 28% of adults report they or an immediate family member has experienced harassment by the police, including 44% of blacks, 28% of other minorities, and 24% of whites. On the other side of the coin, 31% say that they or a family member has had an experience where a police officer helped keep them safe in a potentially dangerous situation, including 41% of blacks, 21% of other minorities, and 33% of whites. These findings are similar to a Monmouth poll conducted in April 2015.

            Most Americans say they are either very satisfied (41%) or somewhat satisfied (30%) with their local police departments, while just 15% are dissatisfied and 13% have no opinion either way. Overall satisfaction with local police stands at about 7 in 10 among all racial groups, although the number who are very satisfied varies from just 21% of blacks to 42% of other minority groups and 45% of whites. Compared to five years ago, though, overall satisfaction with local police has increased among black Americans (from 50% at least somewhat satisfied in 2015 to 72% now), while it has held more steady among other minority groups (from 65% to 68%) and among whites (from 78% to 72%).

“White and black Americans have consistently reported different personal experiences with the police. But it has only been within the last few years that more whites seem to link this to deeper racial inequities in the country,” said Murray.

            The poll finds that 76% of Americans now say that racial and ethnic discrimination is a big problem in the United States, while 16% say it is a lesser problem and just 7% say it is not a problem.  The number who say discrimination is a big problem has increased from 51% in January 2015 and 68% in July 2016. Large majorities of Americans who are black (90%), from other minority groups (81%), and white (71%) say racial and ethnic discrimination is a big problem.

Just over half (53%) of the public feels that race relations have worsened since Trump became president. Only 10% say they have gotten better and 33% say there has been no change. These results, though, are similar to opinion during Barack Obama’s time in office. In 2016, 53% said race relations had worsened during Obama’s term, 10% said they had gotten better and 33% said there was no change. The similarity in these topline results masks some contradictory shifts underneath the numbers. In the current poll, blacks (75%) and other minorities (65%) are more likely than whites (45%) to say that race relations have gotten worse during Trump’s presidency. Four years ago, whites (59%) were more likely than blacks (37%) and other minorities (38%) to say that race relations had worsened in the Obama years.

In other poll findings, the incumbent president’s overall job rating continues on a downward trend since hitting a high point three months ago. Trump’s performance now earns a 42% approve and 54% disapprove rating from the American public. He held a 43% to 51% rating in May, a 44% to 49% rating in April, and a 46% to 48% rating in March. His February rating, before the coronavirus pandemic spread, was 44% to 50%.

The overall job rating for Congress stands at 22% approve and 69% disapprove. This is a notable drop from the legislative branch’s already negative ratings in recent Monmouth polling (32% to 55% in both April and May) and marks a return to its pre-Covid standing (20% to 69% in February).

Currently, 21% of the public says the country is headed in the right direction while 74% says it is on the wrong track. This result is more negative than recent months. It stood at 33% to 60% in May and hit 39% to 54% back in March. The last time the right direction/wrong track metric approached its current low level was December 2017 when it stood at 24% to 66%.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with 807 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

1.      Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as president?

  TREND:

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Aug.
2019

June
2019

May
2019

April 2019

March 2019

Jan.
2019

Approve

42%

43%

44%

46%

44%

43%

43%

43%

41%

40%

41%

40%

40%

44%

41%

Disapprove

54%

51%

49%

48%

50%

52%

50%

51%

53%

53%

50%

52%

54%

51%

54%

(VOL) No opinion

4%

6%

6%

6%

5%

5%

8%

6%

6%

7%

9%

8%

6%

5%

5%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(851)

(902)

(903)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(805)

  TREND:

Continued

Nov.
2018

Aug.
2018

June
2018

April
2018

March
2018

Jan.
2018

Dec.
2017

Sept.
2017

Aug.
2017

July
2017

May
2017

March
2017

Approve

43%

43%

43%

41%

39%

42%

32%

40%

41%

39%

39%

43%

Disapprove

49%

50%

46%

50%

54%

50%

56%

49%

49%

52%

53%

46%

(VOL) No opinion

8%

7%

11%

9%

8%

8%

12%

11%

10%

9%

8%

11%

(n)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

(806)

(1,009)

(805)

(800)

(1,002)

(801)

2.      Do you approve or disapprove of the job the U.S. Congress is doing?

  TREND:

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Aug.
2019

June
2019

May
2019

April
2019

March
2019

Jan.
2019

Approve

22%

32%

32%

20%

24%

22%

23%

21%

17%

19%

20%

24%

23%

18%

Disapprove

69%

55%

55%

69%

62%

65%

64%

68%

71%

69%

71%

62%

68%

72%

(VOL) No opinion

9%

13%

13%

11%

14%

13%

13%

11%

13%

12%

9%

14%

9%

10%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(902)

(903)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

(805)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.
2018

Aug.
2018

June
2018

April
2018

March
2018

Jan.
2018

Dec.
2017

Sept.
2017

Aug.
2017

July
2017

May
2017

March
2017

Jan.
2017

Approve

23%

17%

19%

17%

18%

21%

16%

17%

18%

19%

19%

25%

23%

Disapprove

63%

69%

67%

71%

72%

68%

65%

69%

69%

70%

68%

59%

66%

(VOL) No opinion

14%

14%

14%

12%

11%

11%

19%

15%

13%

11%

13%

16%

11%

(n)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

(806)

(1,009)

(805)

(800)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

  TREND: Continued

Sept.
2016*

Aug.
2016*

June
2016*

March
2016

Jan.
2016

Dec.
2015

Oct.
2015

Sept.
2015

Aug.
2015

July
2015

June
2015

April
2015

Jan.
2015

Dec.
2014

July
2013

Approve

15%

14%

17%

22%

17%

16%

17%

19%

18%

18%

19%

21%

18%

17%

14%

Disapprove

77%

78%

76%

68%

73%

73%

71%

71%

72%

69%

71%

67%

70%

73%

76%

(VOL) No opinion

8%

9%

7%

10%

10%

10%

12%

11%

11%

12%

10%

12%

11%

11%

10%

(n)

(802)

(803)

(803)

(1,008)

(1,003)

(1,006)

(1,012)

(1,009)

(1,203)

(1,001)

(1,002)

(1,005)

(1,003)

(1,008)

(1,012)

* Registered voters

3.      Would you say things in the country are going in the right direction, or have they gotten off on the wrong track?

  TREND:

June
2020

May
2020

April
2020

March
2020

Feb.
2020

Jan.
2020

Dec.
2019

Nov.
2019

Sept.
2019

Aug.
2019

June
2019

May
2019

April
2019

March
2019

Right direction

21%

33%

30%

39%

37%

37%

32%

30%

30%

28%

31%

29%

28%

29%

Wrong track

74%

60%

61%

54%

57%

56%

56%

61%

61%

62%

62%

63%

62%

63%

(VOL) Depends

4%

4%

5%

4%

6%

6%

8%

7%

6%

8%

6%

4%

7%

6%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

3%

5%

3%

1%

1%

4%

2%

2%

2%

2%

3%

3%

2%

(n)

(807)

(808)

(857)

(851)

(902)

(903)

(903)

(908)

(1,161)

(800)

(751)

(802)

(801)

(802)

  TREND: Continued

Nov.
2018

Aug.
2018

June
2018

April
2018

March
2018

Jan.
2018

Dec.
2017

Aug.
2017

May
2017

March
2017

Jan.
2017

Right direction

35%

35%

40%

33%

31%

37%

24%

32%

31%

35%

29%

Wrong track

55%

57%

53%

58%

61%

57%

66%

58%

61%

56%

65%

(VOL) Depends

7%

6%

3%

5%

6%

3%

7%

4%

5%

4%

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

3%

3%

4%

1%

3%

3%

5%

3%

5%

2%

(n)

(802)

(805)

(806)

(803)

(803)

(806)

(806)

(805)

(1,002)

(801)

(801)

  TREND: Continued

Aug.
2016*

Oct.
2015

July
2015

June
2015

April
2015

Dec.
2014

July
2013

Right direction

30%

24%

28%

23%

27%

23%

28%

Wrong track

65%

66%

63%

68%

66%

69%

63%

(VOL) Depends

2%

6%

5%

5%

5%

5%

5%

(VOL) Don’t know

3%

4%

3%

3%

2%

3%

4%

(n)

(803)

(1,012)

(1,001)

(1,002)

(1,005)

(1,008)

(1,012)

      * Registered voters

[Q4-39 held for future release.]

[NOTE: QUESTIONS B1-B7B WERE ONLY ASKED 5/29-6/1; n=759, m.o.e= +/-3.6%]

B1.    How satisfied are you with the job your local police department does – very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, or very dissatisfied?

    TREND:

June
2020

April
2015

Very satisfied

41%

40%

Somewhat satisfied

30%

32%

Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied

13%

10%

Somewhat dissatisfied

10%

9%

Very dissatisfied

5%

9%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

1%

(n)

(759)

(1,005)

[QUESTIONS B2 & B3 WERE ROTATED]

B2.    Have you or an immediate family member ever felt that you were being harassed by the police, or has this not happened?

    TREND:

June
2020

April
2015

Yes, has happened

28%

26%

No, has not happened

72%

74%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

0%

(n)

(759)

(1,005)

B3.    Have you or an immediate family member ever had an experience where a police officer helped keep you safe in a potentially dangerous situation, or has this not happened?

    TREND:

June
2020

April

2015

Yes, has happened

31%

32%

No, has not happened

69%

68%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

0%

(n)

(759)

(1,005)

 

B4.    Do you think that racial and ethnic discrimination in the United States is a problem or not a problem? [If PROBLEM: Is it a big problem or a small problem?]

    TREND:

June
2020

July
2016*

Jan.
2015

Yes, big problem

76%

68%

51%

Yes, small problem

12%

12%

21%

Yes, but not sure if big or small

4%

7%

9%

No, not a problem

7%

10%

18%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

3%

1%

(n)

(759)

(805)

(1,003)

        *Registered voters

B5.    Have race relations in the United States become better or worse since Donald Trump became president, or has there been no change?

 

 

 

COMPARISON:
Barack Obama

June
2020

 

 

July
2016*

Jan.
2015

Better

10%

 

 

10%

15%

Worse

53%

 

 

53%

43%

No change

33%

 

 

33%

40%

(VOL) Don’t know

4%

 

 

4%

2%

(n)

(759)

 

 

(805)

(1,003)

        *Registered voters

 

B6.    When faced with a difficult or dangerous situation, are police officers more likely to use excessive force if the culprit is black, or are they just as likely to use excessive force against black and white culprits given the same type of situation?

    TREND:

June
2020

July
2016*

Dec.
2014

More likely

57%

34%

33%

Just as likely

33%

52%

58%

(VOL) Police do not use excessive force

1%

2%

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

9%

12%

8%

(n)

(759)

(805)

(1,008)

         *Registered voters

 

B7.    Have you heard about the protests across the country, including the burning of a police precinct in Minneapolis, in reaction to a recent incident where a black man died when a police officer kneeled on his neck, or have you not heard about this?

June
2020

Yes, have heard

97%

No, have not heard

3%

(n)

(759)

B7A. Given what happened, do you think the actions of the protestors were fully justified, partially justified, or not at all justified?

June
2020

Fully justified

17%

Partially justified

37%

Not at all justified

38%

(VOL) Depends on which protests

4%

(VOL) Don’t know

1%

Not aware (from B7)

3%

(n)

(759)

 

B7B. Regardless of the actual actions taken, do you think the anger that led to these protests was fully justified, partially justified, or not at all justified?

June
2020

Fully justified

57%

Partially justified

21%

Not at all justified

18%

(VOL) Depends on which protests

1%

(VOL) Don’t know

0%

Not aware (from B7)

3%

(n)

(759)

[B8-B10 & Q40-57 held for future release.]

METHODOLOGY

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from May 28 to June 1, 2020 with a national random sample of 807 adults age 18 and older. This includes 279 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 528 contacted by a live interviewer on a cell phone, in English. Telephone numbers were selected through random digit dialing and landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2018 one-year survey). Data collection support provided by Braun Research (field) and Dynata (RDD sample). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points (unadjusted for sample design). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

Self-Reported

27% Republican

41% Independent

31% Democrat

 

49% Male

51% Female

 

30% 18-34

33% 35-54

36% 55+

 

64% White

12% Black

16% Hispanic

  8% Asian/Other

 

69% No degree

31% 4 year degree

 

MARGIN OF ERROR

unweighted  sample

moe
(+/-)

TOTAL

 

807

3.5%

REGISTERED VOTER

Yes

742

3.6%

No

65

12.2%

SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID

Republican

200

6.9%

Independent

330

5.4%

Democrat

274

5.9%

IDEOLOGY

Liberal

232

6.4%

Moderate

313

5.5%

Conservative

252

6.2%

GENDER

Male

399

4.9%

Female

408

4.9%

AGE

18-34

167

7.6%

35-54

323

5.5%

55+

313

5.5%

CHILDREN IN HOME

Yes

230

6.5%

No

575

4.1%

RACE

White, non-Hispanic

588

4.1%

Other

200

6.9%

Other RACE

Black alone

95

10.1%

Hispanic, Asian, other

105

9.6%

COLLEGE GRADUATE

No degree

353

5.2%

4 year degree

451

4.6%

WHITE COLLEGE

White, no degree

252

6.2%

White, 4 year degree

335

5.4%

INCOME

<$50K

233

6.4%

$50 to <100K

265

6.0%

$100K+

267

6.0%

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