West Long Branch, NJ – Most Americans are concerned with maintaining law and order, with some interesting results by party and race. Neither presidential candidate has a clear edge on this issue, but the incumbent gets negative marks for his handling of the recent protests that have been sparked by the death of George Floyd and others over the past few months. The Monmouth (“Mon-muth”) University Poll also finds that few Americans feel that the suburbs are under significant threat from undesirable consequences of greater integration.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of Americans say that maintaining law and order is a major problem in the country right now. Another 25% say it is a minor problem and 8% say it is not a problem. There are some interesting variations by party combined with race*. Republicans and independents who lean toward the Republican Party (77%) are the most likely to say this is a major problem. Only 46% of white non-Republicans agree. However, non-Republicans who are Black (60%) or of another race or ethnicity (66%) are more likely than white non-Republicans to feel this way.
“It appears we are looking at a divergence between politics and experience. Among white Americans, partisanship creates a clear dividing line on whether law and order is a problem. But for people of color, partisan identity does not seem to be driving their opinion on this issue,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
Neither presidential candidate has a decisive advantage in public trust on this issue. Slightly over half (52%) are very or somewhat confident that Joe Biden can maintain law and order if he is elected president, while slightly under half (48%) say the same about Donald Trump if he is reelected.
“It’s not clear whether Trump’s law and order message has moved the needle at all because we don’t have trends on this question. But there is some potential for softening Latino support for Biden, for example, given the racial differences in opinion among non-Republicans,” said Murray.
One in four (24%) Americans feel the actions taken during recent protests about police involvement in the deaths of Black civilians were fully justified. This is down from 30% who said the same in late June, but still higher than 17% in Monmouth’s early June poll. Another 40% say the protestors actions’ were partially justified (35% in late June and 37% in early June) and 31% say they were not at all justified (29% in late June and 38% in early June).
The poll also finds a drop in the number of Americans who say that the anger driving these protests, regardless of the actual actions, is fully justified. Currently, 39% say this anger is fully justified, compared to 46% in late June and 57% in early June. Another 34% say this anger is partially justified (up from 28% in late June and 21% in early June) and 24% say it is not at all justified (compared to 23% in late June and 18% in early June).
Republicans and GOP-leaners are much less likely to say that the underlying anger is fully justified than they were at the start of the protests (15% now, compared to 18% in late June and 40% in early June). However, this opinion has also declined among Black non-Republicans (58% now, 68% late June, 74% early June). There are smaller shifts among non-Republicans who are white (65% now compared with 71% in both prior polls) or from other racial groups (54% now, 60% late June, 65% early June).
“Black Americans continue to be supportive of the protests, but there seems to be a softening of that opinion as violence spills from downtown areas into local neighborhoods,” said Murray.
Most Americans (61%) say that Trump’s handling of the protests has made the situation worse and just 24% say he has made it better. These results are basically unchanged from late June (62% worse and 20% better). Nearly 9 in 10 non-Republicans say Trump has made the situation worse, including 88% who are white, 87% who are Black, and 86% who are of another racial minority group. Republicans and GOP-leaners stand alone in their feeling that the president has made the situation better (46%) rather than worse (30%). These findings are similar to the late June poll results.
A plurality (45%) think that Joe Biden would have handled this situation better if he was president. Another 28% say he would have done worse and 23% say he would have handled it about the same as Trump. Three-quarters of non-Republicans – 76% white, 82% Black, and 71% another race/ethnicity – say Biden would have handled the situation better while a majority (55%) of Republicans and GOP-leaners say he would have done worse.
Currently, 65% of Americans say racial and ethnic discrimination in the U.S. is a big problem while just 18% say it is not a problem at all. Another 16% say discrimination is a problem but not a big one. This result is basically unchanged from late June (67% big problem), but remains slightly lower than early June (76%). Self-identified Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP (41%) continue to be less likely to see discrimination as a big problem, when compared with non-Republicans who are white (78%), Black (84%), or of another race (95%).
|RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION TRENDS: |
Impact of Partisanship and Race
|Late June 2020||67||40||86||92||85|
|Early June 2020||76||54||89||93||91|
|NOT A PROBLEM:|
|Late June 2020||17||35||4||3||10|
|Early June 2020||7||15||3||0||3|
|* Includes independents who lean to the GOP |
Source: Monmouth University Poll
Just over 4 in 10 Americans feel that race relations in the U.S. will improve (14% a lot and 28% a little) as a result of the movement that has engulfed the country since late May. This is down from just over half who said the same in late June (21% a lot and 31% a little). Another 21% say the current movement will worsen race relations (similar to 18% in June) and 31% say nothing will really change (compared with 26% in June). Republicans and GOP-leaners are much less likely than other Americans to believe that race relations will improve because of recent events – 22% now, down from 33% in late June. The biggest drop in this belief, though, has come among Black non-Republicans (44% now, from 64% in June). There hasn’t been as much of a decline among non-Republicans who are white (59%, from 67%) or from another racial or ethnic group (63%, from 64%).
Most Americans remain basically optimistic about the future of race relations, however. This includes 29% who are very hopeful and 54% who are somewhat hopeful. This is similar to Monmouth’s late June poll results (26% very and 56% somewhat hopeful). This sentiment includes large majorities of Americans who are white (86%), Black (75%), or of another race or ethnicity (82%).
Overall, about 3 in 4 Americans believe that having more racially integrated neighborhoods in their local communities is either very (41%) or somewhat (33%) important. These results are similar to when Monmouth asked this question in January 2015 (36% very and 37% somewhat important). Those saying this is important includes 59% of Republicans and GOP-leaners, 79% of Black non-Republicans, 84% of white non-Republicans, and 95% of non-Republicans of another race or ethnicity.
At the same time, 4 in 10 Americans feel that efforts to increase integration in suburban communities could lead to more crime and lower property values (13% very likely and 29% somewhat likely). Republicans and GOP-leaners (51%) are most inclined to express this opinion while white non-Republicans (28%) are least likely. Black non-Republicans (47%) and non-Republicans from other racial and ethnic backgrounds (41%) tend to be closer to the higher end of those two extremes.
“Another message coming out of the Republican convention was that the suburbs were under attack. This does not seem to be a message with broad-based appeal, but it could have an impact on the margins in states that are close,” said Murray.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from September 3 to 8, 2020 with 867 adults in the United States. The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 3.3 percentage points. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.
* For context, 45 percent of adults in the current Monmouth University Poll identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. This includes a little over half of white Americans, just over 1 in 10 Black Americans, and about 3 in 10 Hispanic or Asian Americans. Putting it another way, about three-quarters of all GOP identifiers are white non-Hispanic. By contrast, half of non-Republicans are white, while about 1 in 5 each are Black or Hispanic.
QUESTIONS AND RESULTS
(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)
[Q1-24 previously released.]
25.How much of a problem is maintaining law and order in this country right now – is it a major problem, minor problem, or not a problem right now?
|Not a problem||8%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
[QUESTIONS 26 & 27 WERE ROTATED]
26.How confident are you that Donald Trump can maintain law and order if he is reelected president – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?
|Not too confident||13%|
|Not at all confident||37%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
27.How confident are you that Joe Biden can maintain law and order if he is elected president – very confident, somewhat confident, not too confident, or not at all confident?
|Not too confident||14%|
|Not at all confident||31%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%|
28.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?]
|Yes, big problem||65%||67%||76%||68%||51%|
|Yes, small problem||11%||10%||12%||12%||21%|
|Yes, but not sure if big or small||5%||4%||4%||7%||9%|
|No, not a problem||18%||17%||7%||10%||18%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||1%||1%||0%||3%||1%|
29.How important is it to have more racially integrated neighborhoods in our local communities – very important, somewhat important, not too important, or not at all important?
|Not too important||11%||15%|
|Not at all important||11%||10%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%||2%|
30.How likely is it that efforts to increase integration of suburban communities could lead to more crime and lower property values – very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not at all likely?
|Not too likely||29%|
|Not at all likely||23%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||5%|
31.As you know, there have been protests over the past few months about incidents involving police and the deaths of Black civilians. Do you think the actions of the protestors have been fully justified, partially justified, or not at all justified?
|Not at all justified||31%||29%||38%|
|(VOL) Depends on which protests||3%||4%||4%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%||2%||4%|
*In early June, preceding question referenced “the burning of a police precinct in Minneapolis.”
32.Regardless of the actual actions taken, do you think the anger that led to these protests is fully justified, partially justified, or not at all justified?
|Not at all justified||24%||23%||18%|
|(VOL) Depends on which protests||1%||1%||1%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%||2%||3%|
33.Has Donald Trump’s handling of the protests made the current situation better or made it worse?
|(VOL) Neither, no impact||10%||11%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||5%||7%|
34.If Joe Biden was president do you think he would have handled the situation better, worse, or about the same as Trump?
|(VOL) Don’t know||4%|
35.Do you think race relations in the United States will improve, get worse, or not really change as a result of the current movement? [Will they improve/get worse by a lot or just a little?]
|Improve by a lot||14%||21%|
|Improve by a little||28%||31%|
|Get worse by a lot||15%||11%|
|Get worse by a little||6%||7%|
|Not really change||31%||26%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||6%||4%|
36.When thinking about the future of race relations in America, do you feel very hopeful, somewhat hopeful, not too hopeful, or not at all hopeful?
|Not too hopeful||9%||10%|
|Not at all hopeful||6%||6%|
|(VOL) Don’t know||2%||2%|
[Q37-45 previously released.]
The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from September 3 to 8, 2020 with a national random sample of 867 adults age 18 and older. This includes 325 contacted by a live interviewer on a landline telephone and 542 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 3.3 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.
|69% No degree|
|31% 4 year degree|
Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and crosstabs by key demographic groups.