Home>Articles>Poll: Most Americans think law and order a major problem

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden with supporters at a pre-Wing Ding march from Molly McGowan Park in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9, 2019. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Poll: Most Americans think law and order a major problem

Biden gets higher marks on issue than Trump

By Nikita Biryukov, September 14 2020 11:00 am

Most Americans believe the country is having trouble maintaining law and order, according to a Monmouth University poll released Monday.

Almost two-thirds of respondents, 65%, said maintaining law and order was currently a major problem for the United States, with another 25% saying it was a minor problem. Just 8% said it wasn’t a problem at all.

Republican respondents and Republican-leaning independents were more likely than others to say it was a problem. More than three-quarters of that group, 77%, said it was a major problem, compared to just 46% of white non-Republicans and 60% of black non-Republicans.

“It appears we are looking at a divergence between politics and experience. 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,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The public very narrowly prefers former Vice President Joe Biden, 52%, deal with that issue than President Donald Trump, 48%.

“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,” said Murray.

Fewer Americans believe actions taken during the protests are justified, with just 24% saying so compared to 30% in late June. Still, just 17% said the same in early June.

Another 40% say protestors’ actions are partly justified, and 24% said they were not justified at all.

Republicans were far less likely than others to say the anger fueling the protests was justified than they were in early June. Just 15% said so in Monday’s poll, while 40% said so in early June.

Black non-Republicans have also soured on the protests’ fuel, with only 58% of black non-Republicans saying anger fueling the protests was justified, compared to 68% in late June and 74% in early June.

“Black Americans continue to be supportive of the protests, but there seems to be a softening of that opinion as violence spills from downtown areas into local neighborhoods,” said Murray.

Most respondents, 61%, say Trump’s handling of the protests has enflamed the situation, compared with just 24% who say his involvement has eased tensions. Almost nine-tenths of non-Republicans said Trump was making the problem worse, including 88% of white non-Republicans, 87% of black non-republicans and 86% of other non-white non-Republicans.

Only members of the GOP and independents leaning toward the party said Trump had done more good than ill, 46%-30%.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they believed Biden would have done a better job.

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