Washington, DC, June 29, 2020 - A new Public Agenda/USA Today/Ipsos Hidden Common Ground poll shows that most Americans want to see changes to policing or law enforcement, and around half say racial bias by police is a problem in their community. There is significant common ground across the political spectrum and racial groups on many measures to reduce police use of excessive force against Black and African Americans. In contrast, Americans are split on how to change police departments' budgets and whether to reduce their community responsibilities.
- More than half of Americans want at least some change to policing or law enforcement, including 55% of Americans who want either major change or to redesign it completely. Just 7% of Americans want it to stay the same.
- Most Americans (58%) say racial bias against Black or African Americans committed by police and law enforcement is a serious problem in their community, including 75% of Democrats, 51% of Independents as well as 40% of Republicans. Seventy-nine percent of Black Americans say that racial bias against Black or African Americans committed by the police in their community is a serious problem compared to 54% of white Americans and 61% of Hispanic Americans who say so.
- Americans almost universally believe that police officers who use excessive violence should be not be permitted to stay on duty, but they differ in the severity of punishment they think those officers deserve. Very few Americans (only 4%) favor keeping a police officer on duty after they have been found to have used excessive force.
- There is significant common ground across the political spectrum and across racial identification on several measures to reduce police use of excessive force against Black Americans, including increasing transparency and data collection, de-escalation and anti-bias training, recruiting more Black officers, and community policing.
- More than half of Americans support reconstituting police forces with retrained officers, but Americans are divided on demilitarization and restricting guns. Americans are also split on how to change police departments’ budgets and whether to reduce departments’ responsibilities in the community.
- Around half of Americans (48%) say that racism is a problem of both how individuals treat each other and of how society functions. While a plurality of Republicans (43%) say it is mostly a problem of how individuals treat each other, most Democrats (59%) and Independents (54%) say it is both a problem of individual treatment and of how society functions. Pluralities across racial backgrounds say racism is a problem of both how individuals treat each other and of how society functions (58% of Hispanic Americans, 56% of Black Americans and 44% of white Americans).
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 18-22, 2020, on behalf of Public Agenda and USA Today. For this survey, a sample of roughly 1,113 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 409 Republicans, 492 Democrats, and 123 Independents.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,113, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.8 percentage points).
The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for Republicans, plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for Democrats, and plus or minus 10.1 percentage points for Independents.
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About the Hidden Common Ground Initiative
The Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on underappreciated and under-leveraged areas of agreement among the public on solutions to tough public problems, like health care and criminal justice. HCG 2020 is the election-year iteration of the initiative, spearheaded by Public Agenda and USA Today, with The National Issues Forums (NIF), Ipsos, and the America Amplified: Election 2020 Public Media Collaborative. It applies the HCG mission to an array of election year issues via nonpartisan research, national and local journalism, community-based and online deliberative forums, and “Strange Bedfellows” storytelling and events.
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