Likely Republican voters in Texas have overwhelmingly negative opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement, while a majority of Democratic voters views the movement favorably, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
It’s a sharp division: 89 percent of Republicans have unfavorable views of Black Lives Matter, including 80 percent who said their opinion is “very unfavorable.”
On the other side of the political ledger, 60 percent of Democrats have favorable views of the movement, including 25 percent who have “very favorable” views.
Independents were more like the Republicans, with 72 percent holding unfavorable views and only 15 percent holding favorable views. Democrats were more likely to be on the fence: 24 percent either had neutral or no opinions.
“I think it’s racialized, but there is also a sense somehow that with that movement, the focal point is not improving policing, but trying to demonize police,” said Daron Shaw, a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the poll.
"When you look at some of the rhetoric that has come out of the leadership, in particular [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick’s trenchant criticism of Black Lives Matter in the shootings in Dallas, there was an audience for what he was saying," said Jim Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin.
Henson said the overall numbers hide differences between subgroups in the poll, “in particular because the Republican numbers are so one-sided and because of some ambivalence among Democrats.”
The differences were slightly less stark when voters were asked whether it would be more helpful to fund programs teaching Texans how to interact with police or to fund programs teaching police how to interact with Texans. Overall, a third of Texas voters chose the community education, while 45 percent said it would be better to train the officers.
Among Republicans, 50 percent preferred community training, 23 percent chose police training and 27 percent registered no opinion. Among Democrats, 15 percent preferred community training, 70 percent preferred police training and 14 percent had no preference. Independents split: 35 percent community, 42 percent police and 23 percent undecided.
“This is a policy debate in the making — I’m not surprised that we see so many undecided voters,” Henson said.
Texans believe there is significant discrimination against minorities and, to a lesser extent, against women. However, their perceptions of discrimination vary considerably by political identity.
Four of five Democrats said there is either “a great deal” or “a lot” of discrimination against minorities — a view held by only 14 percent of Republicans. More than half of Republicans — 54 percent — said there is “a little” or “none at all” when asked about the amount of discrimination against minorities. That view was shared by 6 percent of Democrats. Independents were somewhere in between: 38 percent said there is significant discrimination, while 37 percent said there is little or none.
Overall, 40 percent of Texas voters said there is only a little or no discrimination against women. Republican voters were more likely to say it’s not a problem: 68 percent said there is little or no discrimination. Among Democrats, 62 percent said there is significant discrimination against women; only 10 percent agreed with the majority of Republicans.
“When it comes to discrimination against women, you have to say Republicans are from Mars and Democrats are from Venus,” Henson said.
Independents were again in the middle: 34 percent see significant discrimination against women in Texas, and 47 percent don’t perceive much of it.
The University of Texas/Texas Tribune internet survey of 1,200 registered voters was conducted from Oct. 14 to Oct. 23 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 2.83 percentage points. Among likely voters — those who said either that they are certain to vote or that they have voted in “every” recent election — the margin of error is +/- 3.16 percentage points (n=959). Numbers in charts might not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
This is one of several stories on the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll. Previously: The race for president; what sort of voter fraud Texas voters fear in November’s election; what Texas voters think about various state and federal officeholders and institutions; the mood of the state; issues dear to some of the state’s top officials; and voters on immigration and foreign affairs.
Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.