The vast majority of voters in a new Harvard CAPS-Harris poll released exclusively to The Hill say they believe civil unrest will be an important issue in the November election.
More than 9 in 10 voters surveyed in the poll, 92 percent, said they thought the issue would be important in the presidential campaign and election, including 52 percent who called it "very important" and 40 percent who viewed it as "somewhat important." The survey was released Friday.
The findings come as protests over racial injustice and police brutality have continued for months across the country following the deaths of unarmed Black individuals such as Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The most recent wave of protests has taken place in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by police seven times at close range in Kenosha, Wis.
While many of the demonstrations have been peaceful, some have devolved into rioting and looting. President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE and other Republicans have cited the clashes between protesters and law enforcement to campaign on a message of "law and order" heading into November.
About a quarter of voters in the Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, 26 percent, said they believed Trump was "most responsible" for the violence in cities, while 20 percent laid blame on police brutality. Just 5 percent of voters said that Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenFighter jet escorts aircraft that entered restricted airspace during UN gathering Julian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy FBI investigating alleged assault on Fort Bliss soldier at Afghan refugee camp MORE was "most responsible" for the unrest.
"The civil unrest has become a significant issue in the country though it ranks behind the virus and the economy and so politicians might overplay it," said Harvard CAPS-Harris polling director Mark PennMark PennPoll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters say country is on the wrong track: poll MORE.
Trump and Biden separately visited Kenosha this week amid protests and rioting there following the shooting of Blake, with the candidate's visits underscoring their different approach to the unrest.
Biden met with Blake's family and spoke with Blake over the phone during the visit, in addition to attending a community gathering at a local church. Trump, meanwhile, met with law enforcement and surveyed property damage in the area.
The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll online survey of 1,604 registered voters was conducted Aug. 31 to Sept. 2. It is a collaboration of the Center for American Political Studies at Harvard University and The Harris Poll. The Hill will be working with Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll throughout 2020.
Full poll results will be posted online later this week. The 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.