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How Trump and the Black Lives Matter Movement Changed White Voters’ Minds


Darrell Keaton Sr., a 49-year-old black Democrat from Wausau, Wis., several hours north of Mr. Perry, said the protests after Mr. Floyd’s death were monumental for changing views on structural racism in America. Finally, he said, it feels like white people are listening and joining in the protests.

“We have just been racking our brains and screaming at the top of our lungs for so many years that we’re going to need other people to stand up alongside the black community to change anything,” he said.

Though the poll over all shows former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a very strong position, especially on racial justice, and voters’ belief in his ability to unite a divided country, it also indicates how difficult a task that could be: More than 40 percent of white respondents agreed in some measure that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as other forms of discrimination, reinforcing a theme of white grievance politics that the president and his supporters have long expressed.

There are also broad generational gaps between how voters are responding to the national moment of unrest. Every age bracket said the use of force by the police against black Americans was a bigger problem than looting at demonstrations, however support for Black Lives Matter gets more tepid among older voters, the polls found. Sixty-seven percent of voters ages 18 to 29 viewed the Black Lives Matter movement as “very favorable” as did 54 percent of voters ages 30 to 44.

Among people 45 to 64, the support dropped to 37 percent, while 22 percent viewed the movement as “somewhat favorable.” Voters 65 and over were the least persuaded: Only 31 percent had a “very favorable” view of the Black Lives Matter movement, and 25 percent had a “somewhat favorable” opinion.

Michael Berlinger, 67, who lives in Lancaster, Pa., and considers himself an independent voter, said he thinks the Black Lives Matter movement is too myopic. The protests over Mr. Floyd’s death have been too destructive, he said.

“The whole message has been undermined in a lot of ways,” said Mr. Berlinger, a white retired teacher. “I’m not a big fan of people who break the law to say they’re working for a cause. I don’t think that’s the correct way of doing it.”


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