Americans continue to view racial and ethnic discrimination as a major problem, a Monmouth University Poll released Thursday found.
Nearly four-fifths, 79%, said racial discrimination was a problem in the United States. A majority of American adults polled, 63%, said it was a big problem, while just 20% said it was not a problem at all.
While majorities of non-white, 72%, and white, 59%, Americans agreed race relations were a major concern, the agreement in the latter group disappeared when split along party lines. Just 32% of white Republicans viewed it as a major issue, compared to 85% of white Democrats and independents.
But the broader agreement has eroded since widespread protests over the police shooting of George Floyd this summer, when 76% of Americans agreed race relations were a major issue.
“The partisan lens that separates white Americans on racial issues is astoundingly huge,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.
The poll comes as prosecutors in Minnesota attempt to convict former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murdering Floyd. Most Americans, 63%, said they were following the trial closely, while 31% have heard little about it and 6% have heard nothing.
The largest share of respondents, 46%, said a guilty verdict wouldn’t affect race relations in the United States, while 37% said it would improve race relations and 12% said it would harm them.
But a majority, 63%, said a not-guilty verdict would have a negative impact on race relations. Just 5% said it such a decision would have a positive impact.
Views were again split along party lines among white voters. Just 13% of white Republicans or Republican leaners said a guilty verdict would have a good effect on race relations, compared to 56% of Democrats and independents.
But 56% of white Republicans said a not guilty verdict would be damaging, as 77% of other white Respondents.
“Most people feel a not guilty verdict would be more consequential than a guilty verdict in the long run. The key difference is that a conviction may not improve race relations, but the impact of a not guilty outcome would be expected to be largely negative,” said Murray.
Almost half of Americans, 49%, believe Black Americans are more likely to be subjected to excessive police force than their white counterparts, though this number has also fallen from its 57% high in June.
White Republicans, 12%, were again far less likely than non-white Republicans, 77%, to say that was the case. That
A little more than a third of respondents, 36%, said anger over police killings of Black Americans was justified, regardless of their actions. That’s down from 39% in the fall and 57% in early June.
Three-in-ten respondents said the anger was partially justified, and 32% said it was not justified at all. The latter number was buoyed by white Republicans, just 5% of whom said the anger was fully justified, compared to 61% of other white.
“The partisan lens that separates white Americans on racial issues is astoundingly huge,” said Murray.