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Poll: 70 Percent of Americans Think ‘Black Lives Matter’ Has Not Improved Race Relations

Demonstrators lock arms inside of an area being called the “City Hall Autonomous Zone” established to protest the New York Police Department in support of “Black Lives Matter” near City Hall in New York, N.Y., July 1, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

A majority of Americans believe the Black Lives Matter movement has not improved race relations, according to a new poll from Monmouth University, with 38 percent of respondents saying BLM has hurt racial issues in America, compared to 26 percent who say the movement has helped.

The poll’s findings, released Wednesday, compared results from June 2020 to a similar poll conducted by Monmouth in 2016. While 71 percent of respondents agreed that Black Lives Matter has “brought attention to real racial disparities in American society” — a double-digit increase from 2016 — 70 percent of respondents think that the movement has not improved race relations, with 38 percent saying Black Lives Matter has made race relations worse.

The percentage of Americans who believe the movement has helped racial issues is up 16 points from 2016, with 26 percent of respondents saying Black Lives Matter is having a positive impact on race.

Monmouth also found that just over half of respondents feel that race relations in the U.S. will improve — 21 percent by a lot and 31 percent by a little — as a result of the widespread protests since the death of George Floyd in May. A majority of Americans are also hopeful about the future of race relations in the country — 26 percent are very hopeful and 56 percent are somewhat hopeful. And over three times as many respondents — 62 percent to 20 percent — said Donald Trump’s handling of the protests has made the situation worse.

But questions about the justification of the protests showed changes in support from early to late June. While more respondents said the actions of the protestors were justified — 65 percent by the end of the month compared to 54 percent at the beginning — they were also less inclined to say that the anger of protestors, “regardless of the actual actions taken,” was fully justified. The percentage of those saying the anger was not at all justified rose by five points — from 18 percent to 23 percent — over the span of one month.

The poll’s demographic breakdown showed that a plurality of respondents, 41 percent, were independents, while 31 percent identified as Democrats and 28 percent as Republicans. Over 60 percent of the respondents were white, while 12 percent were black and 16 percent were Hispanic. More than two thirds of those surveyed did not have a college degree — 69 to 31 percent.

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