After a transformative, upsetting, and overall uncomfortable few months following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, several local news outlets teamed up with Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy to check in on public opinion.
Were hearts and minds changing in the midst of the Minneapolis Uprising and other protests nationwide?
The short answer is… kinda?
A poll released by the Star Tribune, MPR News, and KARE 11 Minnesota found that a majority of surveyed Minnesota voters – 56 percent – feel Black people and white people aren’t treated equally by the criminal justice system. (The poll sampled 800 likely voters last week, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.)
That’s significant, considering just four years ago, a similar Star Tribune poll found only 32 percent of folks believed the same thing. The percentage of people who did believe Black and white people were treated the same by law enforcement likewise went down from 41 percent in 2016 to 31 percent in 2020. The number of people who were unsure also decreased, from 27 percent to 13 percent.
There was a bit of a locational divide. If you went closer to the metro core of the state – Hennepin and Ramsey counties – 70 percent of respondents believed the justice system didn’t treat Black and white people the same. The same was true of about 54 percent of folks in the suburbs.
There were some conflicting attitudes registered, too. While there seemed to be a broader acknowledgement of racial bias in policing, about half of all respondents thought civilian violence against people and property in U.S. cities was a bigger problem right now than police violence against Black people.
This opinion was heavily divided on party lines – held by 84 percent of surveyed Republicans and only 24 percent of surveyed Democrats.
It also showed that about 46 percent of people surveyed had an “unfavorable” opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement. That is slightly lower than 2016’s result: 55 percent.
There was also a significant uptick in the amount of folks who said they had a “favorable” opinion of the movement, from 26 percent in 2016 to 42 percent in 2020. The amount of people who weren’t sure went from 19 percent to 12 percent.
More broadly, a Pew Research poll found that national support for Black Lives Matter has actually declined over the summer. A little over half of U.S. adults – 55 percent – expressed at least some support for the movement, down from 67 percent in June. It has remained strong, however, with Black Americans, who went from 86 percent expressing support in June to 87 percent in September.
Support was also fairly strong amongst Hispanic adults (66 percent) and Asian adults (69 percent). White adults showed the lowest level of support at 45 percent.