Poll: Majority of Voters Say U.S. Society is Racist

People raise their arms during a protest against the death of George Floyd, near the White House in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

A majority of voters — 56% — believe that American society is racist, a recent Wall Street Journal/ NBC News poll found.

Eighty-two percent of Democrats polled agreed that American society is racist, more than any other subset included in the polling, including blacks and Hispanics. Ninety percent of Dems said black people are discriminated against. 

The poll, conducted July 9-12, comes amid months of unrest and racial tension sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody over Memorial Day weekend. 

Seventy-one percent of respondents agreed that race relations are either very or fairly bad, a 16-point increase since February. 

“Americans are concerned about issues of inequality, and George Floyd’s death helped contribute to that,” Brenda Lee, a pollster who worked on the survey with Democrat Jeff Horwitt and Republican Bill McInturff, told the Wall Street Journal

Fifty-seven percent of voters said they support the nationwide protests ignited by Floyd’s death, and 58% said they are more concerned with racial inequality as a result of the demonstrations.

“We’ve moved the needle a great deal in terms of just clearly identifying that we, as Americans, have an issue with racism in this society,” she said.

Though 65% of black voters said racial discrimination is built into American society, including U.S. policies and institutions, 48% of white voters attributed racial discrimination to individuals who hold racist views rather than institutions or society as a whole.

While historical statues have become a focus point for many as the country grapples with how it will change in light of its recent racial reckoning, with protestors vandalizing statues and demanding Confederate tributes be taken down, only a slight majority in the poll, 51%, support removing Confederate statues from where they stand now on public property. Forty-seven percent would leave them in place. 

The Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 900 registered voters. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.27 percentage points.

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