Poll: Support for White Protesters Higher Than for Blacks

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While the American public generally believes protesting unfair government treatment is a good thing, they are less likely to view African-American demonstrators in a positive light, according to a new poll.

The Public Religion Research Institute unveiled the numbers on Tuesday, which show that nearly two-thirds of Americans – 63 percent – believe protests of unfair government treatment are always good for the country, while almost one-third – 32 percent – disagree.

There is a higher disparity though, when race is a factor. A slight majority – 54 percent – believe the country is always better off when African-Americans protest unfair government treatment, while 39 percent disagree. However, just 48 percent of white Americans said the same thing when the protesters are black.

An even greater proportion – 65 percent – of non-white Americans said the country is better off when African-Americans protest, while 56 percent of non-whites said the same thing when protesters aren’t classified by race.

The numbers come as demonstrations among African-American communities have gripped cities throughout the nation, protesting police killings of black men in Ferguson, Mo., Baltimore, and New York.

The survey also touched on 2016 presidential politics, asking respondents whether the issue of immigration reform will hurt the Republican Party’s electoral chances. Most respondents said they do not believe the GOP’s position on immigration will negatively affect the party’s 2016 odds. Democrats, though, are more likely to believe the GOP’s views will hurt the party in next year’s contest.

Forty-one percent said they trust Democrats more than Republicans to handle immigration, while 25 percent said they trust the GOP more and 24 percent said they do not trust either party. There is also a racial and ethnic gap in favor of higher support for Democrats among minorities.

The survey of 1,007 adults, conducted jointly with Religion News Service from June 10-14, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

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