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Fewer than half of Americans support goals of Black Lives Matter, poll finds

The poll found strong support for BLM among those who voted for President Joe Biden, but also strong opposition among those who voted for former President Donald Trump.

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America is divided about whether to support the Black Lives Matter movement, according to the results of a new poll.

The UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll asked 1,000 people nationwide whether they support the goals of BLM and found that 48% expressed either some or strong support. Another 14% said they were neutral on the subject and 32% said they somewhat or strongly opposed the movement's goals.

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Among only those who voted for President Joe Biden in 2020, support for BLM swells to 84% while only 9% of Trump voters said the same. Of those who voted for the former Republican president, 73% said they oppose BLM's goals.

"There is a clear partisan division as it pertains to attitudes towards the Black Lives Matter movement," said Prof. Tatishe Nteta, director of UMass Poll. "Democrats and progressives are supportive of the movement — the goals, strategies, tactics — whereas Republicans, conservatives and Trump voters express quite a bit of opposition to the goals of the movement as well as the strategies and tactics."

"This is just another example of the bifurcation of attitudes and opinions in the United States on a range of issues, but more particularly on issues of race."

The poll's margin of error is 3.4%.

Pollsters also asked how individuals feel about BLM strategies and tactics. Overall, 40% said they somewhat or strongly support BLM strategies, 13% were neutral and 40% somewhat or strongly oppose. Similarly, they found less support among the supporters of both Biden and Trump.

This poll was conducted from April 21 through 23, just after the murder conviction of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd. While the poll found a majority — 70% — believe the verdict was justified, it suggests that America was less united about the events that followed Floyd's death in the summer of 2020.

When asked which words from a list described the events that swept the nation that summer, 67% selected the word "protest," 60% selected "riot" and 56% selected "looting."

When respondents were asked to select words that described the participants, 63% picked "protesters" and 56% selected "rioters."

The UMass Amherst/WCVB Poll also asked respondents whether the federal government should make reparations in the form of cash payments to the descendants of slaves. Thirty-eight percent said the government probably or definitely should make such payments while 62% said it probably or definitely should not.

Among those who oppose the idea, 38% said descendants of slaves do not deserve cash payments and 25% said it is impossible to place a monetary value on the impact of slavery.

Among those who did support cash payments, 28% said slavery is directly responsible for inequalities in society today, 22% say the move would provide meaningful recognition of the pain caused by ongoing discrimination and 20% said the nation never followed through on a promise to compensate freed slaves.

"The clear conclusions that we can draw from this survey is that Americans are largely opposed to providing cash payments to the descendants of slaves in the United States. We have over 60% of Americans expressing opposition to this potential policy and in explaining why they're opposed, it's not really a focus on cost," said Nteta. "It's really about perceptions of deserving and worthiness of the descendants of slaves. And so that is the central explanation as to why people oppose reparations."