African Americans, Associated Press, Democrats, election 2020, George Floyd, Im-Politic, National Opinion Research Center, NORC, police brutality, politics, polling, polls, pollsters, protests, racism, Republicans, Trump, University of Chicago
Here at RealityChek I try to focus on polls only that come up with unusually interesting results,, but even by that lofty standard, this new survey from the Associated Press-NORC [National Opinion Research Center] for Public Affairs Research (the latter affiliated with the University of Chicago) is unusually interesting. And for more than one reason.
First and maybe foremost, is the methodological note that came at the end: “[B]lack adults were sampled at a higher rate than their proportion of the population for reasons of analysis.” You don’t have to know much about polling to ask legitimately “What the heck is that about?”
After all, if you’re looking to find out what Americans (or any group) think about this or that subject, you need to ask a sample of that population that’s representative. In this case, sampling African Americans at a higher-than-justified rate is bound to produce results that permit African-American answers to distort the findings in the direction of African-American opinion. And given African Americans’ overwhelming preference for Democrats and (as far as we know) overwhelming opposition to President Trump, this practice is also bound to produce results that skew markedly pro-Democrat and anti-Trump.
Second, even with this “pro-African-American” bias, the survey shows that although a majority of Americans “approve…of the recent protests against police violence in response to [George] Floyd’s death,” the majority isn’t that big. Overall approval is only 54 percent (and again, this finding is thrown off by the aforementioned methology) and “strong approval” was expressed by only 21 percent.
Black Americans’ backing was much stronger: 81 percent overall, with 71 percent strongly approving.
Third, Americans as a whole aren’t buying the notion that the recent protests have been all or mostly peaceful. Indeed, only 27 percent agree with those characterizations combined. Moreover, a slim majority (51 percent) favored the description “both peaceful and violent” and fully 22 percent regarded tham as all or mostly violent.”
And again, the numbers tilting toward emphasizing the violence seen during the protests have probably been depressed by the pro-African-American and therefore pro-Democratic skew of the sample. Nearly half (49 percent) of Democrats called the protests all or mostly peaceful. At the same time, 42 percent of them viewed the protests as “both peaceful and violent.”
Fourth, no racially broken down results were provided for the violence question, but they were presented for the results judging “law enforcement’s response.” In this case, the U.S. public as a whole chose “appropriate response” over “excessive force” by 55 percent to 44 percent. But 70 percent of black Americans believed the police et al used too much force – which surely propped up the 44 percent figure reported for Americans as a whole.
Finally, don’t conclude from the above results that this survey offers much good news for President Trump and his supporters and the relatively hardline approach they’ve favored for handling the protests. As the Associated Press and NORC put it: “Over half of all Americans say his response made things worse and just 12% say it made things better. While there are racial differences, about half of both white Americans (51%) and black Americans (72%) feel that the president’s response made things worse. ”
And in this case, the bizarre sample used by the Associated Press and NORC can’t come close to explaining these underwater Trump ratings. The most positive pro-Trump spin that makes any sense is that although there’s major overall public support for the President’s positions and the actions that logically follow, he’s getting almost no credit for advocating them.