Majority Of Americans Oppose Trump Position On N.F.L. Anthem Protests
Most Americans disagree with Trump on the N.F.L. National Anthem protests, but Republicans are behind him.
A new poll says that a majority of American voters disagree with President Trump regarding the National Anthem protests by N.F.L. players:
A majority of U.S. voters say that National Football League players who kneel in protest during the national anthem are not unpatriotic, according to a new poll released Thursday.
By a 58 percent to 35 percent margin, those surveyed in a Quinnipiac University poll voiced disagreement with the notion that players who, during games, protest police shootings of unarmed black men are disrespectful of America. A majority of voters, 53 percent, also offered support for athletes’ right to protest on their playing fields and courts, while 43 percent expressed opposition.
The findings were sharply divided along partisan lines. Seventy percent of Republicans called NFL players kneeling unpatriotic and 81 percent said they did not have a right to protest during games, while 85 percent and 82 percent of Democrats disagreed, respectively.
Demographically, voters largely agreed the protests are not disrespectful of the country, with the sentiment mustering a majority across genders, racial groups, education levels and ages. But racial divisions on the issue were more visible in responses to the question of whether players are entitled to protest during games, with a 53 percent majority of white voters saying they are not and a majority of African-American and Hispanic voters, 85 percent and 67 percent respectively, standing by athletes’ right to express themselves.
The Washington Post has further details from the poll:
The most recent data shows that a narrow majority of Americans don’t see the issue as the president does. A Quinnipiac poll released Tuesday found the following:
- 58 percent of American voters don’t think players who protest racial injustice by kneeling during the anthem are unpatriotic.
- 53 percent believe that athletes have the right to protest on the playing field or court.
- 51 percent oppose fining NFL teams if players do not stand for the anthem.
- 51 percent support the NFL policy requiring players on the field stand for the anthem.
“Voters are clearly torn on the national anthem issue. They seem to be saying, ‘You can still love your country and kneel during its Anthem,’ but the NFL’s new ‘must stand’ mandate is fine with them, too,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the poll said. “As for teams that defy the new rule, Americans say, ‘Don’t throw a flag on them.’ ”
But the differing views of various groups of Americans on the issue are worth noting.
The overwhelming majority of Republicans — 81 percent — say that players do not have the right to protest on the playing field. And more than half of white voters, a group Trump won in 2016 that continues to give him favorable marks, say athletes do not have the right to protest. But most Americans are not Republicans and a growing number of people in the country are not white. And their views on the issue are worth considering — particularly because some of these other groups view the issue so differently than Trump.
- Most independent voters say professional athletes have the right to protest on the field or court.
- Nearly 7 in 10 Hispanic voters say athletes have the right to protest.
- The overwhelming majority — 85 percent — of black voters say the NFL players have the right to protest.
And this chart shows the stark differences among certain demographic groups: (click to enlarge)
These numbers are largely consistent with previous polling on the issue of the National Anthem protests which have indicated that most Americans support the players by a fairly substantial margin, the same result can be seen in polls taken polling in both September and October of last year in the wake of Trump deciding to resurrect the issue at a political rally in Alabama. At the same time, though, these same polls have shown that Republicans, Whites, and, where identified, self-described conservatives have been united in their opposition to the player protest and supportive of the President’s positions. This is, of course, entirely unsurprising given the general attitude that people on the right have when it comes to “patriotism” and anyone who declines to go through the ritual of appropriately saluting the American flag. Additionally, it seems rather obvious that the racial angle of this story plays a role in how the right reacts to the player protests. For the most part, the players who have engaged in this form of protests are predominantly African-American. They are also attempting to draw attention to issues such as racial division, police brutality and abuse that is disproportionately impacting young African-American men, and the fact that, for the most part police officers charged in connection with police shooting incidents are either cleared of charges without trial or acquitted due to the broad discretion the law grants to the use of force by police. By and large, these are issues on which most on the right tend to support law enforcement notwithstanding their supposed belief in individual rights and limited government. One need only look to how the majority of people on the right have reacted in the past to individual episodes where these issues have come to the fore — such as the Michael Brown case and the Eric Garner case — to see that.
Given this, it’s unlikely that any amount of polling on the issue is going to deter the President from continuing to pick at this issue as much as he can just as he did earlier this week when he canceled the visit of the Philadelphia Eagles to the White House even though no Eagles player had kneeled during the National Anthem during the 2017 regular season. As with so many other issues, Trump will continue to pick at, and reopen, this wound as long as it continues to play well with his base. Indeed, earlier this week CNN reported that Trump thinks that pushing on this issue will help the Republican Party in November:
JUST IN: Source says President Trump has touted the NFL National Anthem issue before as something that could help him in the midterms, and wants to keep it in the bloodstream https://t.co/Wne4FOZzbi pic.twitter.com/QeUQzIbJta
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) June 5, 2018
The start of the N.F.L. season is three months away, just in time for the run-up to the midterm elections. You can rest assured that Trump will be bringing this up again, because he thinks it will energize his base, and he’s probably right about that.
Update: This post was updated to add the analysis from The Washington Post.