Poll: Majority now say it's okay for NFL players to protest police brutality by kneeling during national anthem

Can you imagine how intense the 2024 presidential campaign is going to be between Donald Trump Jr and Colin Kaepernick?

Kneeling during the anthem has been polled many times since 2016 but the last sustained round of polling showed a smallish majority of Americans against it. Fifty-three percent in May 2018 said it’s never appropriate to do so. A nearly identical number in August of that year said it’s inappropriate to kneel during the anthem to protest racial inequality.

Times change, per Yahoo News:

For the question “Is it OK for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem to protest police killings of African Americans?” both male and female respondents agreed that it was, by a margin of 52 percent to 37 percent (male) and 52 percent to 34 percent (female). Younger respondents tended to be more favorable to the idea, with 68 percent of those 18-29 agreeing that it was. That number steadily declined to 36 percent of respondents over 65.

Self-described Democrats strongly favored the right to protest, at 77 percent, while only 20 percent of Republicans, and 20 percent of self-described Trump voters, answered in the affirmative. Along racial lines, 77 percent of blacks, 57 percent of Hispanics, and 47 percent of whites answered positively.

To put that in perspective, just 35 percent said Kaepernick’s kneeling was appropriate in a Yahoo poll taken in 2018. Two years earlier, when he first started demonstrating the anthem, 28 percent said so. In hindsight, with no small amount of irony, the Trump era may be commemorated by historians as the moment America became woker than it’s ever been.

Although it’s still not that woke, as you’ll see from this Morning Consult poll on NASCAR’s decision to ban the Confederate flag from its events. Am I right that Trump hasn’t tweeted yet about that “politically correct” gesture since it was announced on Wednesday?

NASCAR fans would back Trump on flying the flag — but sports fans overall are more evenly divided, and we’re left to wonder what the numbers would be among the overall electorate. My guess is that the issue would be a loser overall since men are overrepresented among sports fans and women tend to lean left. If sports fans are essentially 50/50, Americans generally probably support the ban.

Why has Trump been silent, though? The NASCAR ban is raw red culture-war meat. It can’t be that he missed the news given how much coverage it received. If he’s biting his tongue, it must be for a reason. Maybe his staff huddled with him and asked him to choose just *one* bit of Confederate iconography to defend among the many currently under attack. He could go to the mat for keeping Confederate names on U.S. military bases or for keeping Confederate statutes in the Capitol or for flying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events — but only one. Not all three.

Otherwise people might start to get funny ideas about him.

He made his choice. And he chose poorly in in this sense: Of the three issues I named, naming U.S. military bases after Confederates is probably the one that polls worst among the public. I haven’t seen data on that yet but there’s still reasonably solid public support for displaying the Confederate flag at NASCAR events and, as you’re about to see, for leaving Confederate statues alone. Morning Consult again:

Americans are still in favor of leaving the statues in place, although three years ago they supported it by a two-to-one margin. Three years later the gap between the two positions has been cut in half. Democrats haven’t moved much and neither have Republicans; it’s independents who are trending against Confederate tributes. And not just statues: The share of indies who say the Confederate flag is a symbol of southern pride rather than racism is down 15 points in three years, with the group now almost evenly split on the issue. You can see the potential peril here for Trump if he makes too much noise in defense of CSA symbolism. Indies are the swingiest voters, and indies have shifted left on it.

Another poll today, from YouGov, also asked about dismantling Confederate statues (specifically the ones that came down this week in Mobile and Richmond). Unlike Morning Consult, they found a small plurality in favor, 41/39. Democrats were +54 in support, Republicans were -55 against, and independents were dead even. Interestingly, a plurality of Americans continues to see the statues as symbols of southern pride more so than of racism, 45/34. Why would they support tearing down the statues, then, if they don’t view them as racist symbols? Presumably as a gesture of conciliation to African-Americans. If blacks view the statues as racist — understandably — then dumping the statues is a price many Americans are willing to pay for better race relations.

Here’s the group VoteVets trying to make hay of Trump’s refusal to rename bases currently adorned with the names of prominent Confederates.

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John Sexton 10:40 PM | June 24, 2024