“Here is a result that ‘Kenosha will help Trump win!’ pundits may be surprised by,” sniffed Nate Silver about this data. It’s true, we should be careful not to assume too much about how the public feels about racial and race-adjacent issues right now. At the beginning of June, when BLM protests erupted nationally, I would have bet good money that that would trigger a white backlash and a bump for Trump in the polls. That was wrong as could be. He ended up sliding to a nine- or 10-point deficit, his worst stretch all year. Voters sympathized with the cause and thought Trump’s lack of sympathy for it made for an abysmal approach to race relations. He’s climbed out of that polling hole now, but there’s no particular reason why another round of activism couldn’t put him back in it.
What’s tricky about guesstimating reaction to the NBA strike (which will end tomorrow) is that the initial support for BLM has faded lately. Just yesterday I flagged a poll from Wisconsin showing that black enthusiasm for the movement remains high while white enthusiasm has cooled. Will the Jacob Blake shooting and the NBA’s response to it push the public back towards the concern it felt about police violence in June, or will it accelerate whites’ shift towards skepticism of the activism around it? It could go either way, it seems.
YouGov took a snap poll after the Milwaukee Bucks walked off the court in protest a few nights ago and found, surprisingly, that most Americans are behind the strike. Losing the NBA once this year to COVID restrictions and then a second time to political unrest might lead you to suspect that fans’ patience would be exhausted, especially given the violence this week and especially since the league has already strained to accommodate players’ interest in activism. Not so: