Here was Politico’s takeaway from its own poll showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement slipping: “Trump attacks take a toll on Black Lives Matter support.”
“President Donald Trump has spent weeks attacking the Black Lives Matter movement, and it’s moving the polls — though not necessarily in a way that boosts his electoral chances,” the outlet reported Wednesday.
“Voters’ favorable views of the Black Lives Matter movement has dropped by 9 percentage points since June, including a 13-point dip among Republicans, according to new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. The shift comes after the recent police shooting of another Black man: Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., last week.”
The reason this isn’t going to benefit Trump politically, Politico reported, is because despite the president’s “recent emphasis on the protests in cities like Kenosha and Portland, Ore.” (Politico’s words), the 1,988 registered voters polled between Aug. 28 and Aug. 30 trusted former Vice President Joe Biden to handle public safety over Trump by a margin of 47 percent to 39 percent. (Plus or minus the 2 percentage point margin of error, of course.)
However, the poll found that only 52 percent of respondents had a “Very Favorable” or “Somewhat Favorable” opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement compared to 41 percent who had a “Somewhat Unfavorable” or “Very Unfavorable” view of it.
In June, however, 61 percent approved of the movement.
It’s curious that Trump is blamed for this right up front. Yes, there’s been a “recent emphasis on the protests in cities like Kenosha and Portland” by the president, if just because there’s been a recent emphasis on those protests pretty much everywhere in the media.
The Kenosha riots, after all, were what CNN famously dubbed the “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”
You didn’t, in other words, need Trump’s emphasis on this to see that however “mostly peaceful” these protests have been, the “partially turbulent” part was definitely doing a number on public safety and private property.
This trend has been happening across multiple polls. The most interesting one to note is the Civiqs tracking poll, which has followed the BLM movement’s approval ratings over a period of years. While we’ll point out that the Civiqs survey is an online poll that uses registered voters — which usually denotes lower quality than phone polls with likely voters — the insights from results are pretty startling, particularly given how they’re backed up by other polls.
Since May 2018, the movement has enjoyed a net positive opinion nationally. However, the numbers were mostly steady until mid-to-late-April 2020, when approval of the movement began rising; Civiqs correlates that with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting racial disparities in who was being affected by COVID-19.
For most of April, 42 percent supported the movement compared with 31 percent opposed and 25 percent neither supporting nor opposing. On May 5, when the video of Ahmaud Arbery’s death went viral, 44 percent supported it compared with 30 percent opposed and 24 percent neither supporting nor opposing.
At the time of George Floyd’s death on May 25, there were 46 percent supporting the movement compared with 28 percent opposed and 24 percent neither supporting nor opposing. By June 3, 53 percent supported Black Lives Matter, compared with 28 percent opposed and 18 percent neither supporting nor opposing.
Since then, the movement has seen deteriorating support — and most of those who neither supported nor opposed the movement shifted into the opposition column. In the most recent tracking data, 49 percent supported it, 37 percent were against it and 12 percent neither supported nor opposed. Put into net positive terms, this meant it went from 25 percent net support to just 12 percent net support in a matter of a few months.
And in the swing state of Wisconsin, the numbers are just as stark.
A Marquette Law School poll showed 59 percent had a favorable view of the BLM movement compared to 27 percent with an unfavorable view among 805 Wisconsin registered voters between June 14 and June 18.
In another Marquette poll taken among 801 registered Wisconsin voters between Aug. 4 and Aug, 9, 49 percent expressed a favorable view, while 37 percent expressed an unfavorable one.
You could call this regression to the mean or the president’s “law-and-order” messaging, which is apparently seen as an attack on the movement.
If it’s the former, at least some of the movement’s gains were illusory and prompted by the shock of the George Floyd video — something which did, indeed, shake us all to the core.
If it’s the latter — which at least Politico seems to have insinuated it is — there has to be disorder to make a salient point about “law and order.”
Kenosha, Portland, Chicago — these all qualify as very public disorder, yes.
Leaving alone whether or not Black Lives Matter is inextricably linked with Joe Biden and his re-election chances, it’s clear the movement is inextricably linked with the protests, both of the peaceful and less-placid varieties.
The great irony here is that much of the carnage — in fact, I’d dare say most of it in Portland, judging by video footage — is being caused by white people. The carnage is still linked with a movement that either won’t disavow it or can’t because BLM is too decentralized.
Either way, there have been plenty in the media willing to make excuses for it. Remember, up until recently, property damage wasn’t even considered that important for those on the left to address.
We even had a Black Lives Matter leader in Chicago defend looting there as “reparations.”
“I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike, because that makes sure that that person eats. That makes sure that that person has clothes,” Black Lives Matter Chicago organizer Ariel Atkins said after the early-August looting.
“That is reparations. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance.”
Americans may not have heard all of it. They heard some of it, to be sure.
It was only very recently that Joe Biden went out of his way to explicitly denounce rioting as a form of protest.
That’s a long way into this summer of our discontent to do so.
President Trump may be the most powerful man in the world, but he is but a man. There are a lot more men (and some women) we see perpetrating violence on the screens of our televisions and phones.
They’re the ones really moving these poll numbers.
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