Most Americans think crime is on the rise across the U.S.

New USA Today/Ipsos poll shows nearly two-thirds believe cities are under siege by protesters, counter-protesters

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, September 22, 2020 –Amidst perceptions that crime in the U.S. is on the rise, a majority of Americans believe our cities are under siege and more police should be deployed to get things under control, according to a new USA Today/Ipsos poll. However, views on crime and protests vary significantly by party affiliation.

Detailed Findings

Crime and unrest is a top concern for Americans, with many saying it has gotten worse in their communities and in the country as a whole.

  • Currently, one in three Americans (34%) say crime, violence, or unrest is the most worrying topic right now, second only to COVID-19 (44%). Concern over unrest is particularly high among Republicans (42%), who rate it as their top issue above the coronavirus.
  • More Americans think the rates of various types of crime have gotten worse, rather than better, in the past six months – both in their community and in the U.S. as a whole.
  • This is particularly true for vandalism and theft: 50% say this has gotten worse in their community, while just 7% say it has gotten better. Two-thirds (68%) agree vandalism across the U.S. has gotten worse.
  • More Americans think assault of police officers has gotten worse over the last six months than assault by police officers. This difference is more pronounced at a national level (63% assault of police officers vs. 49% assault by police officers has gotten worse in the U.S.) rather than within communities (40% assault of police officers vs. 32% assault by police officers has gotten worse).

With cities under siege, Americans support deploying police and arming themselves against protesters and counter-protesters. However, there are significant gaps among partisans on this issue.

  • Two-thirds (64%) believe American cities are under siege by protesters and counterprotesters. However, fewer in urban cities believe this compared to those in rural areas (59% vs. 71%, respectively). Significantly more Republicans (83%) than Democrats (48%) agree with this sentiment.
  • A majority of Americans believe the government should deploy more police to get protests and unrest under control (56%), and that people should arm themselves to protect private property during protests (54%). On the latter, approximately one in five Americans have either purchased a firearm, or know someone who has, in response to the recent protests.
  • For both of these sentiments (deploying the police and people arming themselves), there is more than a 40-point gap between Republicans and Democrats, with the former significantly more likely to hold these views.
  • At the same time, however, 61% of Americans acknowledge that most protesters are peaceful.

Coronavirus remains a concern as people continue to protest.

  • Currently, 44% of Americans find COVID-19 to be the most worrying topic in the country, topping a list of issues including crime, healthcare, unemployment, and climate change, among others.
  • Seventy-one percent believe the recent protests will lead to a spike in COVID-19 cases. There is widespread agreement on this point; majorities agree, regardless of partisanship, gender, race and ethnicity, or region of the country.

A variety of outside actors – from both sides of the aisle – are seen as making protests more dangerous.

  • A majority of Americans feel Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the media (both mainstream and conservative), conservative militias, and Donald Trump are all making protests more dangerous.
  • Ultimately, perceptions of these groups and their involvement depends on partisanship. For example, 70% of Republicans think Antifa are making protests more dangerous, compared to 45% of Democrats. On the other hand, 72% of Democrats and 41% of Republicans say the same is true about conservative militias.
  • While 54% of all Americans say Donald Trump is making protests more dangerous, significantly fewer (29%) feel the same about Joe Biden.

Read the full article from USA Today here

About the Study

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 17-18, 2020, on behalf of USA Today. For this survey, a sample of 1,108 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The sample includes 798 white Americans, 115 Black Americans, 435 Republicans, and 497 Democrats.

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 2018 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 3.4 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=1,108, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/4.9 percentage points).

The poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points for white Americans, plus or minus 10.4 percentage points for Black Americans, plus or minus 5.4 percentage points for Republicans, and plus or minus 5.0 percentage points for Democrats.


For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Jackson
Senior Vice President, US Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2025
[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Director, US Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]


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)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs