President Donald Trump is facing record low approval ratings as protests over police brutality enter their third week. Protesters are gathered in streets in nearly every major American city daily, calling for the end of police brutality. The coronavirus pandemic has left many jobless, so they have nothing but time.
These protests reflect a sea change. Public opinion is shifting, and it is doing so rapidly. Polling numbers are just one place it is being seen. In recent polls released by CNN, some thirty-eight percent of respondents think Trump is doing a good job as president.
Trump has been widely criticized for his handling of the recent civil unrest. It’s not just polls, either. Last week, after Trump vowed to send in the military to break up protests, he received condemnation from within his own cabinet. Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed disapproval of the idea of setting troops on US citizens.
Likewise, Trump’s former Defense Secretary, Jim Mattis, offered a scathing denouncement of Trump’s handling of the protests. Mattis said that Trump’s rhetoric was intended only to divide the country, never to unite. Both men drew Trump’s ire, both in public and in private. On Twitter, Trump has continued pushing a “law and order” narrative.
Top Republican strategists should be concerned about the approval numbers. Polling with only thirty-eight percent of respondents approving of his job puts Trump in rare company.
Jimmy Carter and George HW Bush, notably, were hovering around those numbers in the third years of their presidencies. Neither of them were reelected.
Meanwhile, some fifty-seven percent of respondents to CNN’s poll disapprove of Trump’s job as president. Things become even grimmer for Trump among registered voter respondents.
Fifty-five percent of respondents want to vote for Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Only forty-one percent say they want to vote for Donald Trump.
Some eighty-four percent of Americans feel as though peaceful protests against police brutality are justified. However, when the poll discusses the much rarer violent protests, things break down significantly.
Among Democrats, forty-two percent feel violent protests are justified responses to police violence.
However, only nine percent of Republicans felt the same way. Between white and black respondents, the numbers were similarly stark. Thirty-nine percent of black people felt the violent protests were justified, while only twenty-three percent of whites agreed.
What is notable about the poll, however, is the unanimous agreement on the protests themselves. By and large, people seemed to be in agreement that the protests are justified. This movement feels different. This time, things might change for the better.