Jun 20, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive poll: Trump voters oppose protests, less police funding

Data: SurveyMonkey online poll of 6,275 U.S. adults conducted June 12-16, 2020. Note: Margin of error is ±2 percentage points for the whole sample and ±3 percentage points for the 2,121 Trump 2016 voters. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios
Data: SurveyMonkey online poll of 6,275 U.S. adults conducted June 12-16, 2020. Note: Margin of error is ±2 percentage points for the whole sample and ±3 percentage points for the 2,121 Trump 2016 voters. Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

President Trump's 2016 voters enthusiastically stand with him — and against the Black Lives Matter movement, redirecting police funds and protests of police brutality and racism — in a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll.

Why it matters: As the president slips behind Joe Biden in national polls, the survey found that Trump voters view the national uprising against George Floyd's killing in a substantially different way than a majority of Americans.

  • Biden has opened up a wide lead over Trump nationally — 45% to 37% — while people still on Trump's side are far more enthusiastic than Biden's supporters.

Driving the news: The protests already have led to some police reforms, a debate in Congress about others and a newly urgent national conversation about racism. But Trump supporters aren't seeing the protests as a positive.

  • Just 26% of 2016 Trump voters say they support the demonstrations versus 62% of Americans overall.
  • Of the 73% of Trump supporters opposing demonstrations, half are "strongly" opposed. Overall, just 36% of Americans oppose them.
  • Trump supporters' views of Black Lives Matter are the reverse of the overall sentiment. While 62% of Americans (and 91% of Biden supporters) hold a favorable view of the movement, 63% of those who voted for Trump in 2016 hold an unfavorable view.

Trump supporters' views of the police response are more hard-line than the rest of the country, though their anger is more focused on the looting and vandalizing that has been shown on TV than the protests themselves.

  • 77% of Trump supporters say the police haven't used enough force in responding to looting and vandalism, compared to 46% of Americans overall.
  • Just 29% of Trump supporters believe the police haven't used enough force against the demonstrations (a view shared by 13% of all Americans) — but 57% said the police have used "about the right amount of force," compared to 36% of all Americans.
  • Biden supporters are far more likely than the rest of the country to say the police used too much force against the demonstrations — 78% of Biden supporters vs. 48% of Americans overall (and just 12% of Trump supporters).

The "defund the police" movement is more popular with Biden supporters than with the rest of the country.

  • 53% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the movement to shift funds away from the police and toward social services — while 58% of Biden supporters have a favorable view. (Biden's campaign has said he doesn't support it.)
  • Trump supporters are strongly against it: 87% view it unfavorably (81% "very unfavorably).

The unpopularity of "defund the police" may be partly a branding problem. Asked whether they support reducing police funding to increase support for services like housing and mental health — without using the term "defund the police" — Americans oppose it more narrowly, 51% to 47%.

  • Trump supporters still overwhelmingly oppose the idea, 87% to 13%, while Biden supporters favor it by an even wider margin: 73% to 26%.

Between the lines: That Biden now leads by 8 percentage points even though most of Trump's initial voters are still with him suggests Biden may find less luck converting disaffected Republicans than in turning out voters who stayed home or went with third-party candidates in 2016.

By the numbers: The survey finds that 91% of Trump's 2016 voters plan to stick with him, 4% plan to vote for Biden and 4% say they won't vote at all.

  • Similarly, 91% who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 say they'll go with Biden, while 2% say they'll switch to Trump and 6% say they won't vote.
  • Seven in 10 Americans who plan to vote for Trump in November say they're excited, with 53% saying they're "extremely" excited. Just 46% of Biden supporters say they'll be excited to vote for him in November, and only 28% are "extremely" excited.
  • The potential for movement sits mostly with the 28% of Americans surveyed who say they didn't vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016. Among them, 37% say they plan to vote for Biden, 22% plan to vote for Trump and 40% say they don't plan to vote for either.
  • The greatest opportunity for Biden is with African Americans who didn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump in 2016. They break for Biden 55% to 4%, with 39% saying they won't vote. Whites who didn’t vote for Clinton or Trump four years ago favor Biden 36% to 28%, with the other third saying they won't vote.

Methodology: This SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted June 12-16 among a national sample of 6,275 adults in the U.S. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day.

The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 2.0 percentage points for the full sample and 3.0 percentage points for the 2,121 Trump voters from 2016. Data have been weighted for age, race, sex, education, and geography using the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over.

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