How public opinion has moved on Black Lives Matter

click to enlarge Demonstrators gather near the Big Red Wagon at Riverfront Park - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Demonstrators gather near the Big Red Wagon at Riverfront Park
By Nate Cohn and Kevin Quealy
The New York Times Company

American public opinion can sometimes seem stubborn. Voters haven’t really changed their views on abortion in 50 years. Donald Trump’s approval rating among registered voters has fallen within a 5-point range for just about every day of his presidency.

But the Black Lives Matter movement has been an exception from the start.

Public opinion on race and criminal justice issues has been steadily moving left since the first protests ignited over the fatal shootings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. And since the death of George Floyd in police custody May 25, public opinion on race, criminal justice and the Black Lives Matter movement has leapt leftward.

Over the last two weeks, support for Black Lives Matter increased by nearly as much as it had over the previous two years, according to data from Civiqs, an online survey research firm. By a 28-point margin, Civiqs finds that a majority of Americans support the movement, up from a 17-point margin before the most recent wave of protests began.

The survey is not the only one to suggest that recent protests enjoy broad public support. Weekly polling for the Democracy Fund’s UCLA/Nationscape survey shows a significant increase in unfavorable views of police and an increase in the belief that African Americans face a lot of discrimination.

Perhaps most significant, the Civiqs data is not alone in suggesting that an outright majority of Americans agree with the central arguments of Black Lives Matter.

A Monmouth University poll found that 76% of Americans consider racism and discrimination a “big problem,” up 26 points from 2015. The poll found that 57% of voters thought the anger behind the demonstrations was fully justified, while a further 21% called it somewhat justified. Polls show that a majority of Americans believe that police are more likely to use deadly force against African Americans and that there’s a lot of discrimination against black Americans in society. Back in 2013, when Black Lives Matter began, a majority of voters disagreed with all of these statements.

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