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Brief Published: 17 Jun 2020

US Public Opinion Shifts in Favour of Black Lives Matter

Over two-thirds of Americans (67%) say they somewhat or strongly support Black Lives Matter

American voters’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement has increased by 7% in the last two weeks – almost as much as it had risen (8%) in the last two years (Civiqs, 2020). While the movement is supported by a majority of Americans, wide differences among political and demographic groups persist.

  • Black Lives Matter Support Reaches Majority: Fifty-three per cent of American voters now support the movement, up from 42% shortly before the most recent wave of protests began in May (Civiqs, 2020). Another study found over two-thirds of Americans (67%) say they somewhat or strongly support Black Lives Matter (Pew, 2020). In recent weeks, more than 700 cities and towns spanning all 50 states have seen Black Lives Matter demonstrations – which researchers are calling the most sweeping and sustained such protests in American history.
    Another new study found many more Americans have come to grasp the severity of racial justice issues over the past five years. While 51% considered racism and discrimination a big problem in 2015, today, a wide majority of 76% believe so (Monmouth University, 2020).
  • Generational & Party Divides: The Civiqs survey also showed the generational divide we outlined in The Brief. While 66% of 18- to 34-year-olds back the protests, support falls to 44% for those aged 65+.  
    Despite the movement enjoying bipartisan support, there are marked differences between the political parties. While 87% of Democrats support the demonstrations today, only 53% of Republicans do, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.  
  • White Support Edges Up: The demonstrations have seen larger numbers of white and other non-Black protesters standing with Black activists. But while support for Black Lives Matter has risen significantly among white Americans – from 34% in mid-May to 44% currently, according to Civiqs – it’s still shy of a majority.
    In the more nuanced Pew study, a majority of white respondents (60%) said they support the movement either strongly or somewhat – lagging behind support expressed by Hispanic and Asian Americans (77% and 75% respectively).

For more on how the Black Lives Matter demonstrations are changing behaviours and attitudes, see Parents Tackle Racism and the Anti-Racism Education Boom