Most Americans say Trump making protests, unrest worse

New ABC News/Ipsos poll shows that amidst high levels of concern around protests, most believe the president’s rhetoric is having a negative effect

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, September 4, 2020

According to a new ABC News/Ipsos poll, a majority of Americans believe that Joe Biden would do a better job handling the protests that have been happening in parts of the country, along with reducing violence in the country, and handling racial discrimination. At the same time, over half feel that what President Trump has said about the protests makes the situation worse. However, Americans are incredibly divided on the topic, especially based on their partisanship.  

1. A vast majority of Americans are concerned about the protests that have been happening in parts of the country. Concern is highest, however, among white Americans, older Americans, and Republicans.

  • Overall, 80% report they are very or somewhat concerned about the protests.
  • This includes 84% of white Americans (versus 69% of Black Americans), 88% of seniors over age 65 (compared to 68% of 18-29 year olds), and 88% of Republicans (compared to 75% of Democrats).

2. President Trump’s rhetoric on the protests is perceived as having a negative effect on the situation. Americans are more ambivalent about what Biden is saying.

  • Fifty-five percent say what Trump has said about the protests makes the situation worse; just 13% believe he’s making the situation better.
  • Half (49%) believe what Biden has said doesn’t have an effect one way or the other. The rest are split about whether he’s making the situation better (22%) or worse (26%).
  • Views are clearly split on partisan lines, though. For example, 79% of Democrats think Trump’s words are making the situation worse, compared to just 26% of Republicans.


3. A majority of Americans believe Biden is better on issues around race, uniting the country, and handling both the current protests and COVID-19.

  • On all eight measures included in the survey, a majority believe Biden would do a better job than Trump.
  • The most significant differences between the two are on “would do more to unite Americans rather than divide them” (64% Biden, 33% Trump) and “would do a better job handling racial discrimination” (64% Biden, 34% Trump).
  • Among those most concerned with the protests, older Americans, ages 65 and over, (56% Biden, 44% Trump) are slightly more likely to view Biden as better on handling the issue, and white Americans (48% Biden, 50% Trump) are equally divided.
  • A significant majority of Democrats back Biden on these issues, while Republicans coalesce around Trump. However, Biden wins a majority support among Independents on each of the items.

About the Study

This ABC News/Ipsos Poll was conducted September 2 to September 3, 2020, by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 709 general population adults age 18 or older with small oversamples among Black and Hispanic respondents.

The survey was conducted using KnowledgePanel, the largest and most well-established online probability-based panel that is representative of the adult US population. Our recruitment process employs a scientifically developed addressed-based sampling methodology using the latest Delivery Sequence File of the USPS – a database with full coverage of all delivery points in the US. Households invited to join the panel are randomly selected from all available households in the U.S. Persons in the sampled households are invited to join and participate in the panel. Those selected who do not already have internet access are provided a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member. Those who join the panel and who are selected to participate in a survey are sent a unique password-protected log-in used to complete surveys online. As a result of our recruitment and sampling methodologies, samples from KnowledgePanel cover all households regardless of their phone or internet status and findings can be reported with a margin of sampling error and projected to the general population.

The study was conducted in both English and Spanish. The data were weighted to adjust for gender by age, race/ethnicity, education, Census region, metropolitan status, household income, party identification, race/ethnicity by gender, race/ethnicity by age, and race/ethnicity by education. The demographic benchmarks came from the 2019 March supplement of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS). Party ID benchmarks are from recent ABC News/Washington Post telephone polls. The weighting categories were as follows:

  • Gender (Male, Female) by Age (18–29, 30–44, 45–59, and 60+)
  • Race/Hispanic Ethnicity (White Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Other or 2+ Races Non-Hispanic, Hispanic)
  • Education (High School graduate or less, Some College, Bachelor and beyond)
  • Census Region (Northeast, Midwest, South, West)
  • Metropolitan status (Metro, non-Metro)
  • Household Income (Under $25,000, $25,000-$49,999, $50,000-$74,999, $75,000-$99,999, $100,000-$149,999, $150,000+)
  • Party ID (Democrat, Republican, Independent, Something else)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Gender (Male, Female)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Age (18-44, 45+)
  • Race/ethnicity (White/Other Non-Hispanic, Black Non-Hispanic, Hispanic) by Education (Some College or less, Bachelor and beyond)

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error takes into account the design effect, which was 1.16. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on other sub-samples. In our reporting of the findings, percentage points are rounded off to the nearest whole number. As a result, percentages in a given table column may total slightly higher or lower than 100%. In questions that permit multiple responses, columns may total substantially more than 100%, depending on the number of different responses offered by each respondent.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP

The author(s)
  • Chris Jackson Senior Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs