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Popular Support for the Protests but Not the President

They wanted to be heard, we were told.  That was the reason for the protests.  Some said our failure to hear them in the past resulted in and even justified violent protests.

Well, guess what.  They are being heard.

In a recent poll conducted by the Washington Post and George Mason University, Americans overwhelmingly expressed support for the recent protests brought about by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.  The number stands at 74% and cuts across all political lines with Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all supporting the protestors.

While support for the protests was strong, the Police in general didn’t fair as well in this poll.  In numbers just as strong, Americans say that the police have not done enough to ensure Black Americans receive equal treatment as White Americans.  Furthermore, two-thirds of respondents said that the death of George Floyd was indicative of a broader problem while less than one-third said it was an isolated incident.

In regard to the protests themselves, the number of those who view them as mostly peaceful vs those who view them as mostly violent is tied at 43%.  Among those who view them as violent, 10% blame protestors, 14% blame police, and 66% blame other people acting irresponsibly.

President Trump has come to be viewed unfavorably in regard to his response to the protests.  This is despite 52% approval of his plan for using the military to control violent protests (this number comes from an ABC poll 2 days ago).  This could be do to the fact that 50% say they prefer a president who can address the country’s racial divide while only 37% say they would prefer a President who can restore security.

This number does not bode well for the President come November as Joe Biden is seen as the candidate who can better address racial issues.  For his part, Trump is seen as the candidate who can restore law and order.

These numbers, coupled with Trump’s own erratic behavior on Twitter over the past few days have contributed to his decline in the polls in recent days.  In fact, it seems that Trump’s hopes for reelection are disappearing.  The constant exposure, coupled with his own unforced errors, all with the backdrop of a bleak national situation have proven to be a toxic mixture for a sitting President.

To alleviate this, the President plans to resume his popular rallies later this month.  This will put him in a much friendlier environment where the crowds chant his name and he can be more himself.  It would be smart for him to use these high-profile rallies to reposition himself to be on the right side of the numbers in these polls.  Additionally, using these rallied to more tightly focus his message of keeping people safe and getting them back to work would be a boon to his campaign as well. 

Ultimately, though, nothing is going to help the President’s poll numbers as long as he keeps aggressively going after his critics on Twitter and spinning conspiracy theories.  In that case, it may be that the only thing that can help him is Joe Biden getting out there and making his own mistakes on the campaign trail, which he excells at.

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