Nearly three-fourths of Americans view the death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer as a sign of an underlying racial injustice problem, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll finds, a significant shift from a similar question asked just six years ago.
This poll shows a more than 30-point increase in the belief that recent events reflect a broader issue over racial injustice from an ABC News/Washington Post poll from December 2014, four months after the shooting of Michael Brown, an 18-year black man, by a white cop, and five months after the death of Eric Garner, a black man, who died after being put in a chokehold by a white officer. In the 2014 poll, 43% of Americans said those instances showed signs of a broader problem, while 51% called it an isolated incident.
In the new ABC News/Ipsos poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, only 26% believe the incident is an isolated one.
And, at a time of deep strife and unrest, there is a rare show of uniformity across race and party about the treatment of African Americans by the police.
Majorities of whites (70%), blacks (94%), Hispanics (75%), Democrats (92%), Republicans (55%) and independents (71%) agree that what happened to Floyd exemplifies a systemic rift between law enforcement and black communities in the country.
But it wasn’t always that way.
In that 2014 poll, 60% of whites thought the incidents in Ferguson and New York City were isolated, compared with 75% of blacks and 51% of Hispanics who believed it to be reflective of a broader problem.
The poll comes amid a particularly fraught week, one that saw police beat back peaceful protesters, with the use of flash-bangs and what demonstrators described as tear gas, to make way for a presidential photo op on Monday, to the arrest of all four officers on the scene of Floyd’s death on Wednesday, to a nationally-televised memorial service for Floyd on Thursday, which drew civil rights activists, national leaders and mothers of other victims at the hands of police.
Also, as the country contends with two simultaneous crises between the coronavirus pandemic and more than 10 straight days of nationwide protests, that are in turns peaceful and violent, President Trump‘s approval remains low.
For the second week since ABC News and Ipsos began polling on the coronavirus in mid-March, Trump’s approval for his stewardship over the nation’s response to the outbreak remains at a record low 39%. Six in 10 Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the virus.
The latest marks come as confirmed cases of COVID-19 stand at nearly 1.9 million and as the death toll surpasses 108,000.
“To me, he didn’t act fast enough,” a Republican voter who plans to support Trump in the fall said about his management of the coronavirus in a follow-up interview on Wednesday after participating in an ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week.
Eclipsing Trump’s underwater approval on the pandemic, however, is his even lower approval rating on his handling of the response to the death of Floyd.
Only 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s reaction in the aftermath of Floyd’s death, which has sparked thousands and thousands of protesters in dozens of cities demanding racial justice, while about two-thirds disapprove.
A bigger hurdle for the president, however, is the difference in approval among those within his own party on the two crises.
While 84% of Republicans approve of the president for his handling of the coronavirus, a far lower 69% of Republicans approve of his response to Floyd’s death.
Trump’s approval continues to be fiercely divided by partisanship. Unlike Republicans, Democrats are nearly identical in their disapproval, with 95% taking a dim view of Trump on coronavirus and 96% looking unfavorably on his response to Floyd’s death.
Majorities across racial groups, too, disapprove of the president’s response to Floyd’s death, with the sharpest rebuke of the president coming from blacks, with 90% disapproval, compared to 59% of whites and 74% of Hispanics.
This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs‘ KnowledgePanel® June 3-4, 2020, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 706 adults, with oversamples of black and Hispanic respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 4.3 points, including the design effect. See the poll’s topline results and details on the methodology here.