Darrell Keaton Sr., a 49-year-old black Democrat from Wausau, Wisconsin, several hours north of Perry, said the protests after Floyd’s death were monumental in changing views on structural racism in the United States. Finally, he said, it appears that whites are listening and participating in the protests.
“We have spent so many years popping our brains and screaming at the top of our lungs that we will need other people to stand up alongside the black community to change anything,” he said.
Although the poll overall shows former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a very strong position, especially on racial justice, and the voters’ belief in his ability to unite a divided country, it also indicates how difficult it could be a task: More than 40 percent of white respondents agreed to some extent that discrimination against whites has become as big a problem as other forms of discrimination, reinforcing a white complaint policy issue that the president and his supporters have long voiced.
There are also wide generational gaps between how voters are responding to the national moment of unrest. Each age group said police use of force against black Americans was a bigger problem than looting at protests, yet support for Black Lives Matter grows tepid among older voters, according to the polls. Sixty-seven percent of voters aged 18-29 considered the Black Lives Matter movement to be “very favorable,” as did 54 percent of voters aged 30-44.
Among people aged 45 to 64, support fell to 37 percent, while 22 percent viewed the move as “somewhat favorable.” Voters over 65 were the least persuaded: only 31 percent had a “very favorable” view of the Black Lives Matter movement, and 25 percent had a “somewhat favorable” opinion.
Michael Berlinger, 67, who lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and considers himself an independent voter, said he believes the Black Lives Matter movement is too short-sighted. The protests over Floyd’s death have been too destructive, he said.
“The whole message has been undermined in many ways,” said Mr. Berlinger, a retired white teacher. “I am not a big fan of people who break the law and say they are working for a cause. I don’t think that’s the right way to do it. “