Posted on July 22, 2020

Poll Shows Most Voters Agree Black, Hispanic Americans Face Discrimination

Sabrina Siddiqui, Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2020

Voters in growing numbers believe that Black and Hispanic Americans are discriminated against, and a majority of 56% holds the view that American society is racist, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

The poll finds that Americans of all races and age groups share significant concerns about discrimination nearly two months after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed in police custody in Minneapolis. Nearly three-quarters of Americans, 71%, believe that race relations are either very or fairly bad, a 16-point increase since February.

In other signs of substantial shifts in views on race, more voters see racial bias as a feature of American society and support protests aimed at addressing it. Nearly 60% in the survey said that Black people face discrimination, and just over half said so of Hispanics, about double the shares from 2008. Support has also grown for two of the public responses to concerns about inequality: the Black Lives Matter movement and professional athletes’ practice of kneeling during the national anthem.


An overwhelming majority of Democrats, 90%, said Black people are discriminated against, whereas 26% of Republicans agreed. A similarly large share of Democrats, 82%, believe American society is racist, a view held by 30% of Republicans.


Fifty-seven percent of voters said they support the nationwide protests sparked by Mr. Floyd’s killing, and 58% said they are more concerned with racial inequality as a result of the demonstrations. {snip}


A slight majority, some 51% of voters, support removing Confederate statues from where they stand now on public property, while 47% would leave them in place.

Only 10% say the statues should be removed and destroyed. Most voters take a middle position: Some 41% believe that Confederate monuments should be moved and reinstalled in museums, while 31% would leave them in place but add a plaque to explain their historical context. Some 16% would leave such monuments in place as they are, without additional information about their historical background.


Attitudes have changed on the appropriateness of kneeling during the national anthem—a gesture popularized by Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback whom league owners shunned after he took a knee during the national anthem in 2016 to draw attention to police brutality.

A narrow majority of Americans, 52%, now say it is appropriate for athletes to kneel during the anthem to protest racial inequality, up from 43% in 2018. In the new survey, 45% said kneeling was inappropriate.


With less than four months until the November election, Mr. Trump’s handling of race relations earns negative marks, with 63% of voters saying they disapprove and 33% approving. Half of Americans feel it has become more acceptable for people to express racist views since Mr. Trump was elected.


A majority of Black voters in the survey, 65%, said that people of color experience racial discrimination because it is built into American society, including U.S. policies and institutions. By contrast, a plurality of white voters, 48%, attributed racial discrimination to individuals who hold racist views, as opposed to institutions and society as a whole.

Views of the Black Lives Matter movement also differ by race. Among Black voters, 76% hold a positive view of the movement, while views were almost evenly divided among white voters, with 42% holding a positive view and 39% a negative one.

Overall, about half of voters see the movement in a positive light, up from 38% in 2016.

Three-quarters of voters said they were encouraged that the country is addressing longstanding issues of racism in society. At the same time, half said they were concerned that the protests over racial issues are creating social unrest and bringing too much change to the country, including erasing America’s history and significant figures in it.


The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 900 registered voters July 9-12. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.27 percentage points.