President Trump’s campaign and presidency has fueled a resurgence in public activism: 1 in 5 Americans attended a protest or a rally in the past two years, with about one-fifth of that group attending for the first time, according to a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll. The survey asked Americans to compare people who attend rallies or protests today with rallygoers 50 years ago, and it found many see the latest wave of activism in a more negative light.
The survey found 50 percent of Americans saying rallygoers today are “more extreme in their views,” compared with 9 percent who said they are less extreme and 38 percent said they are about the same. A similar 49 percent said recent rallygoers are “more violent” than those in the late 1960s, while less than half as many see them as less violent and the rest said they are about the same, had no opinion or volunteered that it depends.
On the other hand, a 45 percent plurality said today’s rallygoers are “more organized” than those who attended events 50 years ago, compared with 23 percent who said they are less organized, a striking perspective given the way technology and social media have enabled massive protests without the resources of dedicated advocacy groups. The public is more mixed on whether recent rallygoers are more effective than those in the late 1960s — 38 percent say they are more effective in getting their voices heard, while 30 percent say they are less so, and 29 percent see little difference.