Monmouth: People don't think 'defund the police' literally means 'defunding'

Across the board, Democratic strategists and their candidates have been desperately trying to tiptoe away from the boisterous chants to “defund the police” that have been rising up from the streets. At the same time, they don’t want to turn off or aggravate the members of their base that take such messages to heart. It’s a fine line to walk, particularly when poll after poll shows that Americans of all stripes generally consider this to be a very bad, if not suicidal idea. But perhaps there’s some good news for those nervous Democrats to be found in the latest Monmouth poll on race relations. As it turns out, a significant majority of voters, while not being in favor of defunding the police, don’t think that the protesters mean it literally when they say it.

Recent protests have also involved calls to “Defund the Police.” Most Americans (77%) believe those who use that phrase really just want to change the way police departments operate. Only 18% believe that people who use this phrase actually want to get rid of police departments. The poll also finds about half (51%) the public believes that police officers are no more or less likely to exhibit racism compared to other groups in the country. Another 28% say there is more racism among the police and 14% say there is less compared to other groups. These results are similar to a December 2014 poll (56% same amount, 25% more, 12% less).

“Most Americans see ‘Defund the Police’ as more of a general statement of purpose rather than an actual policy demand, at least for now,” said [Monmouth University Polling Director Patrick] Murray.

I really wanted to point out this poll for our readers and pick apart a few of the details, primarily because there are still people out there who get pretty much all of their news from CNN or MSNBC. And if you’re one of the people who do, you might have gotten the impression that everyone hates (or is at least suspicious of) the police and would like to see them disbanded. That is, of course, nonsense. And it’s good to see that 65% of Americans either think that the police are either no more likely than anyone else to harbor racist views or are actually less likely to do so. Barely one quarter suspect that police officers are generally more racist than the rest of the public.

At the same time, however, it remains disturbing to learn that so many people (more than three quarters) are gullible enough to think that the rioters in the streets calling for the defunding of the police are just using the phrase as a euphemism. “Reforming” the police is one thing, but literally defunding law enforcement means either substantially weakening it or doing away with it altogether. And that’s precisely what many of the anarchists setting up CHOP zones and their marching masses of supporters want. They aren’t joking.

You may want to flip through the rest of the linked poll results because there do seem to be some gradual shifts taking place in terms of how voters view race relations in this country and what they think about the Black Lives Matter movement in general. A slim majority of 52% of voters believe that race relations will wind up improving as a result of the current unrest and protests. (21% said things will improve “a lot” and 31% said “a little.”) Meanwhile, 44% said that things will either get worse or not really change significantly.

Amazingly, the Black Lives Matter movement has somehow managed to improve their standing in the opinions of some Americas, at least in small measures. A whopping 71% of respondents said that BLM has “brought increased attention to racial disparities” in the country. But as to whether they are helping or hurting matters, the opinions were more mixed. 38% feel that BLM has made racial matters worse in America, while 26% say they’ve made things better. Another 32% say they haven’t impacted the issue one way or the other.

That’s a pretty stunning figure, isn’t it? Barely a quarter of voters think Black Lives Matter is actually helping to improve race relations. That means that they aren’t even getting the support of a majority of Democrats. When Monmouth breaks that question down along party lines, only 35% of non-Republicans believe that the group has improved racial issues.

I don’t know where the future of race relations in our country is heading, but I suppose it depends where you live and who you talk to. We really haven’t run into much in the way of such issues where I live, but if you’re watching what’s going on in the cities on cable news it looks pretty bad out there at the moment. And in my opinion, having liberal news outlets stoking the flames 24/7 isn’t helping any.