Support for the Black Lives Matter movement among Americans has seen a decline following the large-scale riots that swept across the nation in response to the police killing of George Floyd, according to a new Politico-Morning Consult poll.
As racial justice protests have intensified morphing into riots and looting following the shooting of Jacob Blake, the killing of George Floyd and others public support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has declined. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, a majority of U.S. adults (55%) now express at least some support for the movement, down from 67% in June of this year amid nationwide demonstrations sparked by the death of Floyd and the viral video footage that followed. Those who say they strongly support the movement stands at 29%, down from 38% just four months ago.
While the net support for BLM has been cut in half, among Black Americans, according to Pew Research, the support for BLM remains strong. In June 87% of Black Americans said they backed the movement. The latest survey puts that figure at 86%.
What does all this signify in an election year? How does the support or the lack thereof of this social movement translate politically? According to Civiqs, when one tracks the support of Black Lives Matter among registered voters, from April 25, 2017 until September 14, 2020, with over 165,000 surveyed, support fell significantly. From February 9, 2018 to February 10, 2018 there was a shift in support positively for BLM. Prior to George Floyd (May 2020) and shortly thereafter there was a high net support for BLM among registered voters of 25%. However, from the end of May forward that support fell by 7 points and following the shooting of Jacob Blake the support fell to a low of 9% net support among registered voters.
Along partisan lines only 19% of Republicans said they somewhat supported the BLM movement and 88% of Democrats said the same. If we examine these figures by ethnicity about 88% of White Democrats expressed at least some support for BLM while just 16% of White Republicans say the same. According to Pew Research, a little more than half—51% of White Democrats said they strongly support BLM, while just 2% of White Republicans said the same. This poll also found a drop in Black American adults who say they strongly support BLM. In June of this year 71% said they strongly supported BLM now that support has dropped 9 points being 62%.
Lord Jamar gives, in many ways a very solid explanations as to why we are seeing a decline in support even among Black Americans. Jamar a popular Black New Rochelle, New York rapper and social media influencer said publicly at the height of the protests and riots that he could not support the BLM movement, because in his view, Black Lives Matter is a result of social engineering and he feels that there aren’t any genuine BLM leaders setting a purely Black empowerment agenda. Jamar also asserted that those fighting for LGBTQ causes should keep their cause separate from Black Lives Matter. “It’s not our movement,” he said.
While there was this surge initially the evidence shows that support for BLM as a nation and an electorate is declining. If the partisan political support for BLM continues to trend towards a decline and if voters begin to associate this social movement with a particular party or political ideology this could impact the results of the November election. The trends indicate that the more liberal (or democrat) voter could be energized to vote with the desire for “social justice” and change while the more conservative (or republican) voter could be energized to vote in order to combat what they deem to be a divisive and negative movement counterproductive to the country.
This decline in public opinion, according to John Zaller, is consistent with scholarly research that tells us that the effects of events on public opinion tend to last only for as long as they are at the forefront of the country’s — or, in this case, one group’s — collective consciousness. This phenomenon of the collective conscious tells us that without prolonged protests, riots, or looting and consistent media coverage, the impact of the events on public opinion can disappear or resurface (though temporarily) as a result of a call to action i.e. “get out and vote”.
 Zaller, John R. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge University Press, 2011.