Economist/YouGov poll: Majorities across the board oppose abolishing police -- and most oppose defunding, too

It’s a day old but still worth analyzing in depth, in part because it correlates with other polling on the subject of abolishing and/or defunding the police. Majorities in every demographic of the latest Economist/YouGov poll strongly oppose the idea of abolishing police, and majorities in most demos also oppose the idea of defunding them, too.

More than two-thirds of Americans approve of the non-violent protests in favor of policing reform, but overall, only 11% favor abolishing the police, with 73% opposing the idea. The sample does differentiate between abolishing and defunding, but not by a whole lot. Opposition to the latter hits a majority too, more than doubling support at 24/53. That is similar to the same question asked by Quinnipiac, which saw its split at 41/54.

Analyzing the demos on abolishment is fairly simple; there isn’t a single demo in the poll that doesn’t have a majority opposed to it. The narrowest split comes with 18-29YOs at 19/51, with black voters opposed 22/55. Even self-described liberals oppose the idea 23/60, and Joe Biden supporters oppose it 16/68.

This, of course, is why people have tried using “defunding” as a more ambiguous term. That has allowed people to argue that “defunding” doesn’t mean abolition, but just a reduction of resources. That doesn’t change the situation much, however, and probably less where it matters. Especially, one has to conclude from this data, when it comes to the 2020 election.

For instance, Joe Biden’s voters split 43/31 for “defunding,” while Donald Trump’s  voters split 6/89. Only 17% of independent voters support the idea, though, while 50% flat-out oppose it. A narrow plurality of black voters support “defunding” at 39/31, but a wider plurality of Hispanics (25/42) and “other” ethnicities (29/46) oppose it. Self-described moderates have a majority in opposition (23/53), with liberals an almost-exact flip in favor (52/23). Even 18-29YOs split 35/35 on “defunding,” while the two older age groups have large majorities opposed (18/61 for 45-64YOs, 13/72 among seniors).

This makes “defund the police” look definitively like the “one of the worst slogans ever” in politics, as Congressional Black Caucus chair Rep. Karen Bass noted this week. The more that people link this to the Left and to Democrats, the worse it becomes as political baggage, assuming these numbers remain constant. It only speaks to the hard-core base of the party, and not even to all of it. If Democrats become the party of police abolition, then they will lose practically everyone who’s not already sold on the progressive agenda otherwise.

Interestingly, the sample shows some considerable optimism for the future of race relations in the US. Seventy percent think it’s bad now, and 54% believe it has gotten worse during Trump’s tenure, but a plurality of 42% think it will improve over the next decade. Fifty-eight percent approve of corporate statements issuing anti-racism statements and announcing new policies to fight discrimination, but …

And what about the battle between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter? It looks a bit like the battle between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, which is to say that people tend to view both more positively than negatively:

Huh? I would not have guessed that All Lives Matter would poll better this week especially, so that deserves a quick review of the demos, too. Black voters tend to be more gracious than white voters on these two slogans; on BLM, whites break 42/35 positively and blacks 73/8, while on ALM, majorities of both view them positively (whites 55/23, blacks 58/16). The most dramatic flips here are between liberals (81/12 on BLM, 32/48 on ALM) and conservatives (20/57 and 70/9, respectively). Otherwise, what mostly comes through is people trying their best to get along with each other, which would be a nice change.