Stirewaltisms: The Space Between ‘Back the Blue’ and ‘Defund the Police’

Police tape at a crime scene. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

There is a diversity of opinion among Americans about police, with strong currents relating to ethnicity and partisanship running through them.

A recent poll from Quinnipiac University will tell you something you probably already know: The people who have the greatest confidence in police officers to do the right thing “almost all of the time” are Republicans (39 percent), white males (29 percent), and white Americans without college degrees (29 percent). Compare that to Democrats (9 percent), adults under the age of 35 (15 percent), and black Americans (11 percent). 

We are not here to explain why those differences exist, but certainly at least some substantial part of those differences relate to the real experiences Americans have. But not all of it, and maybe not even most of it. The 30-point delta between Republicans and Democrats almost certainly reflects assumptions from our highly partisan media and the politicization of the issue. 

But when we pull back just a bit, a clearer story emerges. Sixty-two percent of all Americans “trust the police to do what is right either almost all of the time or most of the time” while 36 percent “trust the police to do what is right either only some of the time or hardly ever.” Independent voters were less confident in police than Republicans by 22 points and 14 points more confident than Democrats.

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