Texans divided by race and party on policing and protests, while overall support rises for Black Lives Matter, moving public Confederate monuments

Summary document (pdf)
Crosstabs (pdf)

We released the remaining results of the June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll today, which included a set of questions on attitudes about racial discrimination, policing, and the recent protests focused on both. As we’ve done with other question areas in the poll, we’ve gathered these results to present them with graphics and highlighted some possible points of interest.  

The poll also also includes results on attitudes toward the coronavirus and the ongoing response; politics, the state of the economy, and life in Texas; and the national economy and political landscape

Some points of interest

  • Overall, Texans are closely split in whether or not they think that the deaths of African Americans resulting from encounters with police in recent years are isolated incidents (43%) or signs of broader problems (49%). Much of this divide is along partisan lines: 88% of Democrats see these incidents as signs of broader problems, while 76% of Republicans see them as isolated.
  • Attitudes towards police have remained relatively static in four measures taken in UT-affiliated polling we’ve been involved in between February 2015 and June 2020. There have been slight increases in negative opinions among Democrats accompanied by decreases in positive affect. In the most recent poll, Republicans registered their highest favorability rating of police in over the five-year period.  
  • A large overall increase in the favorable evaluations of the Black Lives Matter movement since June 2016 incorporated a 24-point increase in favorable ratings among  Democrats since 2016, from 57% to 81%. Less dramatically, unfavorable ratings among Republicans have decreased by 10-points, from 86% to 76%.
  • African American and Latino Texans were more likely than Anglos to report experiencing various forms of racism. Half of African Americans reported experiencing unfair treatment by a police officer, compared with one in ten anglos. 
  • In a battery used to explore perceptions about group experiences of discrimination in this and previous polls, the share of Texans who feel that African Americans face “a lot of discrimination” in America today increased to 44% in June 2020, an increase from 30% in June 2016 and 35% in February 2018. There are sharp differences in perceptions of discrimination between partisans: Asked what group experiences the most discrimination in America, the most frequent response among Democrats is African Americans (60%), followed at some distance by trangender people (20%). Among Texas Republicans, there is less consensus. The most frequent response is Christians (28%), followed by white people (17%) and African American people (16%).  
  • In a marked reversal, a majority of Texans, 52%, now believe that confederate statues should be removed from public property, compared with only 38% who felt the same in October 2017 UT/Texas Tribune polling. Similarly, the share who said that the statues should remain in place declined from 56% in 2017 to 43% today. Within that latter category, the share that said confederate monuments should remain where they are without any changes decreased from 34% to 20%, while those that said they should be removed from public view entirely (rather than placed in museums or other context) increased from 8% to 20%. 

Follow the links below for more detailed results in each subject area.

Within subject areas, individual item results are hyperlinked to graphics including cross tabulations by party identification, ideology, race, gender, religiosity, and other selected demographic and attitudinal characteristics.

Race and Policing

Discrimination and Racism

Confederate Monuments

More analysis of specific topics in all of these areas will follow in the days and weeks to come. There are links to a summary of all results and a crosstab file at the top of this page. As always, these files are available in the Texas Politics Project polling data archive, along with a data file and codebook. All the graphics in this post as well as hundreds of others from the June poll are available at our polling data archive and at our "latest poll" page.

Race and policing

Asked whether “the deaths of African Americans during encounters with police in recent years” are “isolated incidents” or “a sign of broader problems in the treatment of African Americans by police,” a plurality of Texans said these incidents are a sign of broader problems (49%), but an almost even share (43%) said that these incidents are isolated. The close difference in the share of responses belie sharp, frequently lopsided differences in opinion on these incidents by partisanship and by race.

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A sign of broader problems...49%
Isolated incidents43%
Don't know/No opinion7%

Among Democrats, 88% see these incidents as signs of a broader problem, compared to 76% of Republicans who view these incidents as isolated.

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A sign of broader problems...88%46%15%
Isolated incidents7%43%76%
Don't know/No opinion5%11%9%

A majority of White Texans (50%) say that these deaths are isolated incidents, compared to 43% who say they are signs of a broader problem; 82% of African Americans say these deaths are signs of a broader problem. Among Latinos, views were almost evenly split, 47% said these deaths were a sign of broader problems, 43% considered them isolated incidents.

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A sign of broader problems...43%82%47%
Isolated incidents50%13%43%
Don't know/No opinion7%5%10%

Given the divisions in views of police encounters with African Americans, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that views towards the recent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police similarly diverge. Overall, 43% of Texans viewed these protests favorably, while 44% expressed an unfavorable view.

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Very favorable26%
Somewhat favorable17%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable11%
Somewhat unfavorable12%
Very unfavorable32%
Don't know/No opinion3%

77% of Texas Democrats said that they held a favorable view towards these protests, while 73% of Republicans said that they held an unfavorable view.

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Very favorable50%20%5%
Somewhat favorable27%10%9%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable10%15%11%
Somewhat unfavorable5%9%20%
Very unfavorable7%37%53%
Don't know/No opinion2%8%2%

69% of African Americans said they held a favorable view of the protests, as did smaller shares of Hispanic (40% favorable) and white respondents (43%). 

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Very favorable20%55%24%
Somewhat favorable18%14%16%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable7%17%15%
Somewhat unfavorable14%3%14%
Very unfavorable39%8%26%
Don't know/No opinion2%3%4%

Overall, 55% of Texans said that they hold a favorable view of the police, with 30% holding an unfavorable view. This latest assessment represents a 9-point decline since a UT poll in February of 2017, when 64% of Texans held a favorable view of the police. While the share of Texans holding a favorable view held steady in June since a UT/Texas Tribune poll assessed attitudes towards the police in June 2019, when 58% held a favorable view, this latest assessment represents a 9-point decline over the three polls. During the same period, the share holding an unfavorable view of the police increased by 7-points since last year.

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Very favorable31%
Somewhat favorable24%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable13%
Somewhat unfavorable17%
Very unfavorable13%
Don't know/No opinion3%

Both the change and the continuity in partisan assessments of the police were striking. In the latest poll, 84% of Republicans said they held a favorable view of the police, the highest rating in the four measures of police favorability taken in UT polling between February 2015 and June 2020. Among Democrats, the share holding a favorable view of the police declined from a high of 48% in 2017 to 27% today, while unfavorable ratings increased from 27% in 2017 to 53% of Democrats today.

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Very favorable7%22%55%
Somewhat favorable20%22%29%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable19%19%7%
Somewhat unfavorable30%12%6%
Very unfavorable23%17%2%
Don't know/No opinion2%8%1%

Attitudes towards the police have become slightly less positive among white Texans, the majority still hold a positive view (64%), down 3 points from 2019 polling, while the share holding an unfavorable view increased 7 points to 25%. African American attitudes towards the police have remained relatively static over four UT polls, with the most recent survey finding 44% holding an unfavorable view of the police compared with 30% who hold a favorable view.

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Very favorable40%10%21%
Somewhat favorable24%20%25%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable9%22%17%
Somewhat unfavorable15%20%20%
Very unfavorable10%24%13%
Don't know/No opinion1%4%4%

Attitudes towards the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, like many of the attitudes towards race in this most recent poll were mixed, but also exhibited a noted shift since 2016 polling. In the November 2016 UT/Texas Tribune Poll, a majority of Texans held an unfavorable view of BLM (55%), with only 28% holding a favorable view. In June of this year, 42% held a favorable view, 43% held an unfavorable view.

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Very favorable25%
Somewhat favorable17%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable12%
Somewhat unfavorable11%
Very unfavorable32%
Don't know/No opinion3%

Much of this movement in attitudes towards BLM can be attributed to Democrats, whose favorability towards the movement increased by 24-points since 2016 to 81%. Republicans attitudes also have softened towards BLM, with 76% holding an unfavorable view in 2020, compared to 86% who held an unfavorable view in 2016.

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Very favorable53%12%4%
Somewhat favorable28%13%7%
Neither favorable nor unfavorable12%18%10%
Somewhat unfavorable3%14%18%
Very unfavorable3%33%58%
Don't know/No opinion1%10%3%

Discrimination and racism

Views of discrimination in the United States appear to have been impacted by the recent unrest over the treatment of African Americans by police officers according to the June 2020 UT/Texas Politics Project Poll. The share of Texans who say that African Americans face “a lot” of discrimination in the U.S. today has increased from 30% in June 2016, to 35% in February 2018, to 44% in the most recent poll. Asked who faces the most discrimination in the U.S. today, the plurality of Texas voters said African Americans (36%), followed by transgender people (16%), and Christians (14%)

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African Americans36%
Gays and Lesbians4%
Transgender people16%

Views of discrimination vary greatly among different subgroups. A close to unanimous 80% of Democrats say that African Americans face “a lot” of discrimination; including 60% who say that African Americans face the most discrimination in the U.S. today. By contrast, more Republicans say that Christians (34%) and Whites (24%) face “a lot” of discrimination than say the same of any other group, including African Americans (14%). Similarly, asked who faces the most discrimination in the U.S. today, the plurality of Republicans said Christians (28%), followed by whites (17%), and then African Americans (16%). (The difference between the latter two is statistically indistinguishable.)

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African Americans60%32%16%
Gays and Lesbians4%6%4%
Transgender people20%12%13%

Results in the poll also suggest that the experience of discrimination varies substantially among Texans. Asked whether or not they’ve faced different types of discrimination based on their race or ethnicity, 10% of Texans said that they had been denied housing they could afford; 21% said that they had been treated unfairly by police; 25% said that they had been denied a job they were qualified for; 35% said that they had felt physically threatened; and 46% said that they had been subject to slurs or jokes.

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Been subject to slurs or jokes46%
Felt physically threatened35%
Denied a job you were qualified for25%
Been treated unfairly by police21%
Denied housing you could afford10%

Unsurprisingly, the felt experience of racism differs significantly by race, with more Hispanics than whites, and more African Americans than Hispanics experiencing each form of discrimination tested.

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Been subject to slurs or jokes36%67%53%
Felt physically threatened30%48%35%
Denied a job you were qualified for18%41%27%
Been treated unfairly by police11%51%29%
Denied housing you could afford7%22%12%

Confederate monuments

A slim majority of Texans believe that confederate monuments should be removed from public property, with 20% saying they should be removed completely and 32% saying that they should be moved to a museum. 43% say that these statues should either remain in place with additional historical context (23%) or remain in place unchanged (20%) — 5% held no opinion. These results represented a marked departure from the last time UT polling asked about confederate statues. In October 2017 UT/Texas Tribune Polling, 38% said that these statues should be removed, with a majority (56%) believing that confederate statues should remain in place on public property.

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Moved to museum32%
Remain with historical context23%
Remain unchanged20%
Don't know/No opinion5%

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Removed from view8%
Moved to museum30%
Remain, add context22%
Remain as is, unchanged34%
Don't know6%

Among Republicans, the majority want the statues to remain in place with additional historical context (39%) or remain in place unchanged (35%). Among Democrats, 50% say that the statues should be moved to a museum, while 36% say they should be removed outright.

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Moved to museum50%26%17%
Remain with historical context7%22%39%
Remain unchanged2%21%35%
Don't know/No opinion5%14%2%

82% of African Americans, 54% of Hispanics, and 45% of whites think that the confederate statues should be removed from public property. These results, again, show a marked change since 2017, when 60% of African Americans, 40% of Hispanics, and 33% of whites said that the statues should be removed.

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Moved to museum29%39%36%
Remain with historical context30%1%19%
Remain unchanged23%7%17%
Don't know/No opinion2%9%10%

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Removed from view8%13%5%
Moved to museum25%47%35%
Remain, add context23%13%23%
Remain as is, unchanged41%16%30%
Don't know4%11%8%

About the poll

The poll surveyed a sample of 1200 self-declared registered voters in Texas June 19-29, 2020. The margin of error of the poll was +/-2.83%, (3.28% adjusted for weighting). Data was collected over the internet by YouGov. The summary file (with complete methodological information), crosstabs, codebook & data files are avialable at the Texas Politics Project Polling Data archive page.