While the United States has been gripped by the coronavirus, the country has also been rocked by protests and even riots. Previous polling by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has identified that swing state voters are concerned about the state of law and order, especially after the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In recent weeks, President Trump has tried to frame the national debate around law and order issues, and the topic was a key aspect of the recent Presidential Debate.
Polling conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies this week found that the majority (63%) of the American public believe the United States has a law and order problem.
There is little difference between age groups or along political lines: 72% of those intending to vote for Donald Trump agree that the United States has a law and order problem, as do 61% of those intending to vote for Joe Biden. Law and order as a policy area is clearly a concern for most voters irrespective of whom they intend to vote for, even if the solutions they would prescribe are very different.
Particular concern surrounding law and order in the US led Donald Trump to pursue a ‘law and order campaign,’ but our research suggests that this strategy has not yet been effective for the President’s campaign. A plurality (47%) of American voters say they trust Joe Biden the most to keep them and their families safe, while 39% trust Donald Trump the most.
Joe Biden is the most trusted Presidential candidate within each age group, despite older voters tending to favour Donald Trump on other issues. Americans are clearly deeply divided along political lines in this area, with only 3% of those intending to vote for Donald Trump trusting Joe Biden more to keep them and their family safe, and vice versa.
While the issue of law and order is of great concern to many American voters, the country is sharply divided on which actors threaten the law and disrupt order in the country. During recent protests in the US, some have claimed that the threat to law and order comes from protesters who did not protest peacefully, while others have claimed the threat to law and order comes from the harsh actions of the riot police whose tactics have been questioned.
Throughout the last several months, protests have been closely associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Currently, a clear plurality (45%) of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement while 31% oppose.
The majority (61%) of those intending to vote for Donald Trump oppose the Black Lives Matter movement, while less than a fifth (18%) support. On the other hand, the vast majority (70%) of those intending to vote for Joe Biden support the Black Lives Matter movement and a tenth (10%) oppose.
Donald Trump has also blamed recent riots on Antifa, a radical left-wing group which he has vowed to categorise as a terrorist organization. Despite the group’s anonymity, the vast majority (69%) of American voters have heard of Antifa. This includes both the majority of those intending to vote for Donald Trump (78%) and of those intending to vote for Joe Biden (69%).
In the first Presidential Debate, Joe Biden claimed that Antifa––short for Anti-Fascist––is an idea rather than a formal group that could be called designated as a terrorist organization. The clear majority (57%) of the American public who have heard of Antifa disagree with the Democratic Nominee and consider Antifa to be an organization rather than an idea.
The vast majority (81%) of those intending to vote for Donald Trump believe Antifa is an organization while just 10% consider it an idea. While a plurality (47%) of likely Joe Biden supporters consider Antifa to be an idea, a third (33%) consider Antifa to be an organization and a further fifth (20%) are not sure.
American voters may be concerned about the state of law and order in the United States on the whole, but they still have a significant degree of trust in their local community. Approximately half (49%) say they know their neighbors and trust them. However, nearly a fifth (18%) disagree.
Overall, the American public are concerned about the state of law and order in the United States, regardless of political affiliation. The majority of those intending to vote for Donald Trump do not support Black Lives Matter and consider Antifa to be an organization rather than a political idea. For likely Donald Trump voters, the threats to law and order come from the organizations that the President himself has blamed for recent civil unrest. Meanwhile, likely Joe Biden voters are only somewhat less likely to be concerned about law and order in the United States, yet are far more likely to support the Black Lives Matter movement and Antifa, believing that the latter is an idea rather than a defined organization that could (or should) be policed and restricted.