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58% Think There's A War on Police in America Today

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

With officers murdered in Texas and Illinois in just the last few days, most voters now believe the police are under attack in America and blame politicians critical of the cops for fanning the flames.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 58% of Likely U.S. Voters think there is a war on police in America today. Just 27% disagree, while 15% are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Sixty percent (60%) believe comments critical of the police by some politicians make it more dangerous for police officers to do their jobs. Only 18% think those comments improve the quality of the police’s performance. Thirteen percent (13%) say the politicians’ comments have no impact.

While there is usually a wide racial difference of opinion on questions related to the police, most black voters (54%) agree with the majority of white (60%) and other minority voters (56%) that there is a war on police underway.

Blacks (36%) are far less likely than whites (66%) and other minorities (55%), however, to say the comments of some politicians are making it more dangerous for the police. There’s very little belief in any of the groups, though, that the comments are improving police performance.

Protests against the police have been growing since the killing in August 2014 of a black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, although a grand jury did not indict the officer for any wrongdoing. That incident followed by several similar ones around the country led to the establishment of the “Black Lives Matter” movement to protest perceived racist behavior by many police officers.

Eighty-two percent (82%) of black voters think most black Americans receive unfair treatment from the police. White voters by a 56% to 30% margin disagree. Other minority voters are evenly divided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on August 31-September 1, 2015 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Seventy-two percent (72%) of Americans have a favorable view of the police in the area where they live. Most (66%) also approve of the tactics used by their local police officers.

Those under 40 believe even more strongly than their elders that there is a war on police going on, but these younger voters are less likely to think politicians critical of the police are making it worse.

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of Republicans think there is a war on police now, compared to 48% of Democrats and 52% of voters not affiliated with either major party.

Twenty-six percent (26%) of Democrats believe political comments critical of the police are improving the officers’ performance, but just 12% of GOP voters and 15% of unaffiliateds agree. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Republicans and 62% of unaffiliated voters think these comments make it more dangerous for the police to do their jobs, a view shared by only 44% of voters in President Obama’s party.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters who say there is now a war on police believe the critical comments by some politicians make it more dangerous for the cops. Among those who don’t think there is a war on police going on, 35% say the comments improve police performance; 30% say it makes things more dangerous, while 28% think the comments have no impact.

Only 17% of all voters believe politicians raise racial issues to address real problems. Seventy percent (70%) think they talk race just to get elected.

Americans are skeptical of the protests that followed white-on-black police incidents in Ferguson and in Baltimore, Maryland

Just 13% think most deaths that involve the police are the fault of the policeman. Seventy percent (70%) of voters believe the level of crime in low-income inner city communities is a bigger problem in America today than police discrimination against minorities

Only 19% of black voters think the justice system is fair to blacks and Hispanics, however, compared to 50% of whites and 44% of other minority voters. 

Some have countered the “black lives matter” slogan by saying, “all lives matter.” Voters overwhelmingly agree. 

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only. 

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