Most Americans are concerned about maintaining law and order with Republicans and minorities expressing more unease, according to a new poll from Monmouth University.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of those polled said keeping law and order is a major national problem. Another 25% classified the problem as a “minor” one, with 8% saying it is not a problem.
Almost 77% of Republicans and independents who lean toward the GOP were the most likely to say this is a major problem. Only 46% of white non-Republicans agree.
Among Black non-Republicans, 60% saw law and order as a major issue. Also 66% of non-Republicans of another race or ethnicity, felt the same way.
“It appears we are looking at a divergence between politics and experience,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. “Among white Americans, partisanship creates a clear dividing line on whether law and order is a problem. But for people of color, partisan identity does not seem to be driving their opinion on this issue.”
Neither presidential candidate held a clear advantage on the issue, but President Donald Trump did get negative marks for his handling of protests that followed the death of George Floyd and others, according to the poll.
When it came to confidence in who could maintain law and order, 52% said they “very or somewhat confident” in Democratic nominee Joe Biden; 48% expressed the same level of confidence in Trump.
“It’s not clear whether Trump’s law-and-order message has moved the needle at all because we don’t have trends on this question. But there is some potential for softening Latino support for Biden, for example, given the racial differences in opinion among non-Republicans,” Murray said.
The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from Sept. 3 to 8, with 867 adults in the United States.
The question results have a margin of error of +/- of 3.3 percentage points.
A majority of Americans (61%) say the president’s handling of the protests has made the situation worse and just 24% say he has made it better. These results are basically unchanged from late June (62% worse and 20% better).
Nearly 9 in 10 non-Republicans say Trump has made the situation worse, including 88% who are white, 87% who are Black, and 86% who are of another racial minority group. Republicans and GOP-leaners stand alone in their feeling that the president has made the situation better (46%) rather than worse (30%). These findings are similar to the late June poll results.
A plurality (45%) think that Biden would have handled this situation better if he was president. Another 28% say he would have done worse and 23% say he would have handled it about the same as Trump. Three-quarters of non-Republicans — 76% white, 82% Black, and 71% another race/ethnicity — say Biden would have handled the situation better while a majority (55%) of Republicans and GOP-leaners say he would have done worse.
The poll also found that few Americans feel that the suburbs are under significant threat from undesirable consequences of greater integration.
Overall, about 3 in 4 Americans believe that having more racially integrated neighborhoods in their local communities is either very (41%) or somewhat (33%) important. These results are similar to when Monmouth asked this question in January 2015 (36% very and 37% somewhat important). Those saying this is important includes 59% of Republicans and GOP-leaners, 79% of Black non-Republicans, 84% of white non-Republicans, and 95% of non-Republicans of another race or ethnicity.
At the same time, 4 in 10 Americans feel that efforts to increase integration in suburban communities could lead to more crime and lower property values (13% very likely and 29% somewhat likely). Republicans and GOP-leaners (51%) are most inclined to express this opinion while white non-Republicans (28%) are least likely. Black non-Republicans (47%) and non-Republicans from other racial and ethnic backgrounds (41%) tend to be closer to the higher end of those two extremes.
”Another message coming out of the Republican convention was that the suburbs were under attack. This does not seem to be a message with broad-based appeal, but it could have an impact on the margins in states that are close,” Murray said.