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Most Americans sympathize with protests and disapprove of Trump’s answer: the Reuters / Ipsos survey

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – A majority of Americans sympathize with nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed black man in custody and disapprove of President Donald Trump’s response to the turmoil, according to a Reuters / Ipsos survey conducted Tuesday (June 2) ) has been released.

The demonstrations, some of which have turned violent, began last week after a Minneapolis police officer was shot on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even after Floyd seemed to lose consciousness. The officer has been charged with murder.

The survey conducted on Monday and Tuesday found that 64 percent of American adults were “sympathetic to people who are protesting now,” while 27 percent said they were not and 9 percent were unsure.

The poll underscored the political risks to Trump, who took a tough approach to the protests and threatened to use the U.S. military to quell violent dissent. The Republican president faces Democrat Joe Biden in the November election.

More than 55 percent of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the protests, including 40 percent who “ strongly ” disapproved, while only a third said they approved – lower than his 39 percent overall approval of the job, showed the poll.

A separate Reuters / Ipsos poll found that Biden’s lead over Trump among registered voters grew to 10 percentage points – the biggest margin since the former vice president became his party’s alleged candidate in early April.

Twice as many independent voters said they disapproved of Trump’s response to the turmoil. Even among Republicans, only 67 percent said they approved the way he responded, significantly lower than the 82 percent who liked his overall job performance.

CONCERNS VIOLENCE

The protests have heightened the sense of crisis for a country that is already shaking due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent devastating economic downturn. While many daytime demonstrations have been peaceful, some have led to violent nighttime clashes between police and protesters.

The majority of Republicans and Democrats said they supported peaceful protests, but that material damage undermined the protesters’ case. Less than a quarter of Americans said violence was an appropriate answer.

Even in rural and suburban areas that were largely unaffected by the demonstrations, most people expressed support. Just over half of rural residents said they were sympathetic to the protesters, while seven out of ten suburbs agreed.

Forty-seven percent of registered voters said they planned to support Biden in the November 3 elections, compared to 37 percent who support Trump.

Biden vowed that he “would not kindle the flames of hatred” in a Tuesday speech about the unrest.

Public opinion can be extremely unstable, as protests go through the big cities every night. Several police officers were shot on Monday night and Trump has ridiculed governors who have not asked for military aid.

On Monday, police used tear gas to clean up peaceful protesters at the White House so Trump could pose for a photo in front of a church.

Americans are divided over police response. According to the survey, 43 percent believed that the police were doing a good job and 47 percent disagreed, with a majority of Democrats disagreeing and a majority of Republicans agreeing.

The Reuters / Ipsos poll about the protests was conducted online, in English, in the United States and received responses from 1,004 American adults. That poll had a credibility interval – a measure of precision – of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The other poll conducted during the same period regarding Trump’s overall job performance and the 2020 elections collected responses from 1,113 American adults and had a credibility interval of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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