Jennifer Agiesta, CNN, April 27, 2021
More than three-quarters of Americans say they are satisfied with the guilty verdict in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd last spring in Minneapolis, according to a CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. Just 16% are dissatisfied with the outcome.
But expectations for changes to the way Black people and other racial and ethnic minorities are treated in American society following the verdict are mixed (53% say they are likely, 43% unlikely), and most (55%) say their view of the nation’s criminal justice system is unchanged by the verdict. And the survey finds sharp divisions by party in views on the verdict and policing.
The widest gap in satisfaction with the verdict comes along partisan lines. While 97% of Democrats and 77% of independents express satisfaction with the outcome, just 53% of Republicans feel the same way. Divides by race, age or gender are less stark. Black adults are broadly satisfied with the outcome (95%), but broad majorities of Latinos (78%) and Whites (74%) are as well. Women (81%) express more satisfaction than men (73%), and there are no significant differences by age.
According to the poll, most Americans, 53%, say that policing in America today needs major changes or a complete overhaul. Only 14% say policing works pretty well as it is and 32% say it needs minor changes. Among Black Americans, 82% say policing needs major changes or a complete overhaul, compared with 47% among White Americans. The gap is also large by party: Among Democrats, 79% think it needs major changes or a total overhaul, but that drops to just 23% among Republicans.
Overall, just 25% say the outcome of Chauvin’s trial has improved their view of the US criminal justice system while nearly as many, 17%, say their view of the justice system has worsened as a result of the verdict. Republicans (35%) are most likely to say their view has worsened because of the outcome, while Democrats (39%) are more likely to say it has improved.