Americans’ support for increased police spending in their region grows

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(Agence Yasin Ozturk / Anadolu via Getty Images)

Amid growing public concern about violent crime in the United States, Americans’ attitudes toward funding police in their own communities have changed dramatically.

The share of adults who say police spending in their area should be increased now stands at 47%, up from 31% in June 2020. This includes 21% who say their local police funding should be increased. a lot, compared to 11% who said so last summer.

A bar chart showing that compared to 2020, a higher share of Americans want to see

Support for reducing police spending has declined significantly: 15% of adults now say spending should be cut, up from 25% in 2020. And only 6% now advocate spending cuts a lot, up from 12% who said this last year. At the same time, 37% of adults now say police spending should stay about the same, up from 42% in 2020.

The Pew Research Center conducted this study to understand public views on the level of police funding in local communities and the level of concern about violent crime in the United States. This analysis is based on two separate surveys. We interviewed 10,371 American adults in September 2021 and 10,221 in July 2021. All of those who took part in both surveys are members of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through random sampling. national residential addresses. This way almost all American adults have a chance to be selected. Surveys are weighted to be representative of the adult American population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education, and other categories. Learn more about the ATP methodology.

Here are the questions used for the September survey and its methodology. Here are the questions used for the July survey and its methodology.

Views on police funding continue to vary widely by race and ethnicity, age, and political party. White (49%) and Hispanic (46%) adults are more likely than black (38%) or Asian (37%) adults to say police spending in their area should be increased. Black adults (23%) are more likely to say police funding should be cut than those who are white (13%) or Hispanic (16%). Some 22% of Asian adults say spending should be reduced, which is statistically higher than the share of white adults but not higher than the share of Hispanic adults.

A bar graph showing black adults and Democrats now much less likely than in 2020 to prefer reduced policing spending in their area

The majority of people aged 50 and over are in favor of increased police spending, including 63% of those aged 65 and over. Young adults remain the biggest supporters of a cut in police funding: about a third (32%) of 18 to 29 year olds say there should be less spending on police in their area. This compares to 18% of those aged 30 to 49 and less than one in ten of those 50 and over.

Partisanship is closely linked to views on police funding. A majority of Republicans and Independents who lean for the Republican Party (61%) say police spending should be increased, with 29% saying it should be increased significantly; 5% of Republicans say spending should be cut and 33% say it should stay about the same.

In contrast, 34% of Democrats and Skinny Democrats say police funding should be increased, 25% say it should be cut, and 40% would like it to stay roughly the same.

Since 2020, the views of black Americans and Democrats have changed more than those of white and Hispanic adults and Republicans when it comes to cutting funding for local police. The proportion of black adults who say police spending in their area should be reduced has fallen by 19 percentage points since last year (from 42% to 23%), including a 13 point drop in the share that say funding should be cut a lot (from 22% to 9%). The share of white and Hispanic adults who say local police funding should be cut has also declined over this period, but not by so much.

Likewise, the share of Democrats who say funding for local police should be cut has fallen dramatically, from 41% in 2020 to 25% today. By comparison, the share of Republicans who prefer to spend less – which was already quite low – has steadily declined. Growing shares of Republicans and Democrats now say police funding should be increased in their region.

A bar graph showing black and Hispanic Democrats more likely than white Democrats to support increased spending on local police

Among Democrats, black (38%) and Hispanic (39%) adults are more likely than white adults (32%) to say police spending in their area should be increased. There is no significant difference between these racial and ethnic groups in the proportion of adults who say spending should be cut.

Within the GOP, white and Hispanic adults differ in their views on this issue: 64% of white Republicans say police spending in their area should be increased, compared to 53% of Hispanic Republicans. Relatively small shares in each group – 4% of White Republicans and 9% of Hispanic Republicans – would like to see spending drop. (There were too few black Republicans in the sample to break out separately.)

The age gap in opinions on police funding has widened since 2020, mainly because opinions have changed more drastically among those 50 and over. The proportion of adults in this age group who say police spending should be increased has jumped 22 percentage points since 2020 (from 37% to 59%), while the increase has been more modest among those less. 50 years (from 26% to 36%). Both age groups have seen declining support for spending cuts for local police. These age patterns are similar among white and black adults, as well as between parties.

Line graph showing about six in ten Americans now say violent crime is a really big deal

The change in attitude of Americans toward police spending in their region came as the public grew concerned about violent crime. In July 2021, 61% of adults said violent crime was a very big problem in the country today, up from 48% in April 2021 and 41% in June 2020 (although concerns about crime have fluctuated in recent years. years). In the July survey, Americans expressed more concern about violent crime than the federal budget deficit (50% said it was a very big problem), climate change (47% ), racism (45%), economic inequalities (44%) and illegal immigration (43%).

Note: Here are the questions used for the September survey and its methodology. Here are the questions used for the July survey and its methodology.

Kim parker is director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center.

Kiley hurst is a research assistant specializing in social and demographic research at the Pew Research Center.


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