Poll: 57 percent have negative view of Black Lives Matter movement

A majority of Americans has an unfavorable view of Black Lives Matter, although opinions on the protest movement cut sharply along racial and partisan lines, according to a new poll.

Overall, 43 percent of voters have a positive view of Black Lives Matter, compared with 57 percent who have a negative view of the movement, the latest Harvard-Harris survey found.

Only 35 percent of whites have a favorable view of the movement, while 83 percent of blacks have a favorable view.

{mosads}Twenty-one percent of Republicans have a positive view of the movement. That figure dips to 18 percent among those who voted for President Trump.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of those who voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton support the movement, which sprung up during the 2016 election to protest several controversial police shootings of black people and broader frustrations with the criminal justice system and police treatment of minorities.

“The public is sympathetic to the problem of police using too much force but overall are unsympathetic to the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn. “As you might expect, white voters are sharply negative to the group while African-Americans give them positive ratings.”

The Harvard-Harris online survey of 2,051 registered voters was conducted between July 19 and July 24. The partisan breakdown is 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican, 27 percent independent and 4 percent other. Sixty-five percent of respondents were white, 14 percent Hispanic and 12 percent black or African-American.

The poll found that 50 percent of voters overall believe the criminal justice system is unfair to minorities, and 50 percent believe it’s fair.

Among black voters, 85 percent said there is bias in the criminal justice system, while 60 percent of white voters said the system is fair to minorities.

A majority — 56 percent — believes the police are too quick to resort to force in encounters with citizens, including 57 percent of whites.

And 54 percent say the police are too quick to shoot African-Americans, although here, only 45 percent of whites agree.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has broad support from the law enforcement community, nodded to the tensions between the police and minorities in a Wednesday speech to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

“We all know the cases of the last several years when, in confrontations with police, lives have been cut short,” Sessions said. “Just as I’m committed to defending law enforcement who lawfully have to use deadly force to defend themselves while engaged in their work, I will also use the power of the office I’m entrusted with to hold any officer responsible who violates the law.”

A majority, 54 percent, said the police are held accountable for misconduct. Among blacks, only 23 percent agreed.

Seventy-five percent, including two-thirds of African-Americans surveyed, said more attention is paid to police behavior than to gangs or crime. Nearly 90 percent said that scrutiny has triggered more violence against the police.

And 62 percent said the focus on police behavior has handcuffed law enforcement officials by discouraging them from doing their jobs, although only 44 percent of blacks agreed.

Seventy percent said black people committing crimes against other black people is a bigger problem in African-American communities than police violence toward blacks. 

African-Americans are split here, with 49 percent saying black crime is a bigger problem and 51 percent saying police violence toward blacks is the bigger problem.

“There are deep racial divides in attitudes towards police and whether too much attention has been given to cop shootings versus black-on-black crime,” said Penn.

The Harvard-Harris Poll is a collaboration of the Harvard Center for American Political Studies and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard-Harris Poll throughout 2017. 
Full poll results will be posted online later this week.

The Harvard-Harris Poll survey is an online sample drawn from the Harris Panel and weighted to reflect known demographics. As a representative online sample, it does not report a probability confidence interval.

Tags Hillary Clinton Jeff Sessions

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