Poll: Young adults, Democrats, blacks approve of Kaepernick's national anthem protest

So heavy is the support from black Americans for Kaepernick’s protest in YouGov’s new survey that it shifts Democrats’ view from disapproval to approval. White Democrats narrowly disapprove of what Kaepernick is doing, 43/49, but blacks split 72/19 in favor. Put the two groups together (not all blacks are Democrats, I realize, but virtually all are) and you get an overall Democratic split of 54/34.

The partisan difference is … stark. Here’s the split when YouGov asked if people approved of Kaepernick refusing to stand for the anthem because “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color”:


The wider public disapproves, 32/57. In fact, the only three subgroups that lean towards approval are blacks, Democrats, and Americans under the age of 30, who split 50/39 in Kaepernick’s favor. I doubt Obama would disapprove of the protest if he were completely free to speak his mind about it, but you can see vividly from this result why he chose his words carefully yesterday. Most Americans dislike what Kaepernick is doing but core parts of his own base give it a thumbs up. Any strong opinions from Obama either way risks alienating someone at a moment when Hillary can’t afford that.

On the related question of whether it’s ever appropriate to protest by remaining seated during the national anthem, the same three subgroups tilt towards yes (plus the racial group “other,” which excludes whites, blacks, and Latinos). At 44/37, Democrats divide more narrowly on this question than they do on whether they approve of Kaepernick’s protest specifically; relatedly, blacks are also a bit less enthusiastic, splitting 56/20. The only group that’s stronger in its support for protesting the anthem generally than it is for Kaepernick’s protest specifically is young adults, who split 48/30 here. Go figure that, for blacks, an anthem protest becomes more tolerable on balance if it’s offered in the name of fighting racial oppression. Whereas, for young adults, the racial element makes them a bit more conflicted.

Speaking of which, here’s a fascinating new result from a different pollster on a similar theme:

Fifty-one percent of white adults between the ages of 18 and 30 say in a GenForward poll they now strongly or somewhat support Black Lives Matter, a 10-point increase since June, while 42 percent said they do not support the movement.

But most young whites also think the movement’s rhetoric encourages violence against the police, while the vast majority of young blacks say it does not. And young whites are more likely to consider violence against police a serious problem than say the same about the killings of African-Americans by police.

Young adults may be more left-wing on racial matters than even the average white Democrat (per YouGov’s data) but their solidarity has its limits. That’s how, I guess, you go from +11 within that group on Kaepernick’s protest to +18 on anthem protests in the abstract.

It’s a bummer, by the way, that YouGov didn’t ask people how they would have felt if Kaepernick had tried to make the same point about racism through a less incendiary form of protest. Like I said yesterday in the Obama post, boycotting the anthem is stupid because it equates the BLM perspective with anti-Americanism, which is the last thing movement organizers should want if they’re looking to win people over. (If, on the other hand, all they’re trying to do is establish their own radical cache, then it’s perfectly suited.) How much more approval would Kaepernick have gotten if he’d decided to hold post-game press conferences to make his case, say, instead of sitting out the national anthem?