WISCONSIN— A majority of Wisconsinites believe racism is a significant problem in the state and also believe police using excessive force against Blacks or African-Americans is also a widespread problem, but only 35% believe recent protests regarding racial justice will bring about positive change.
Those were the findings of a Spectrum News/IPSOS Poll of 1,000 Wisconsin adults done between Oct. 7-15. The respondents were interviewed online in English. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for all respondents.
Asked what they considered to be the main problem today facing Wisconsin, respondents ranked racial justice fifth, behind COVID-19, crime or violence, healthcare and unemployment.
Overall, 57% of respondents said racism was a significant problem in the state and 55% agreed police using excessive force against Black or African-Americans was a major problem.
Both issues came into focus following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old African-American man, who was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey and was seriously injured on Aug. 23. Prior to the shooting, Blake was tasered and had scuffled with officers.
The police shooting was followed by protests, rallies, marches, property damage, arson, and clashes with police. But despite the heightened attention on the matter, when asked if the recent protests regarding racial justice will bring about positive change, only 34% of white people and 40% of Blacks agreed with that statement.
Respondents’ answers were broken down into 11 categories: region, gender, age, household income, children in the home, education, employment status, marital status, race, political party identification, and urbanicity.
A total of nine questions were asked regarding racial justice and it was political affiliation, more than race, that led to the most significant difference in attitudes on racial justice. On eight of nine questions, political party affiliation was the biggest influencer of racial justice attitudes.
On the question of if recent protests regarding racial justice will bring about positive change in our society, 58% of Democrats agreed protests would lead to positive change, compared to 18% of Republicans.
Other poll questions that highlighted Wisconsin’s political divide included:
- Police using excessive force against Black or African-Americans is a widespread problem; 78% of Democrats agreed compared to 31% of Republicans.
- Black Americans receive equal treatment to white Americans in this country; 62% of Republicans agreed compared to 25% of Democrats.
- Racism is a significant problem in Wisconsin; 81% of Democrats agreed compared to 35% of Republicans.
- I support the Black Lives Matter movement; 80% of Democrats agreed compared to 23% of Republicans.
- I support reducing my local police department’s budget in order to increase investment in social programs; 50% of Democrats agreed as opposed to 16% of Republicans.
- Lately, I do not feel safe in my community; 42% of Democrats agreed compared to 37% of Republicans. This was the only question where race had the biggest influence, as 57% of African-Americans did not feel safe compared to 36% of white people.
- I support Wisconsin sports teams boycotting games; 60 percent of Democrats agreed compared to 21% of Republicans.
- Wisconsin sports teams should come out of the locker room for the national anthem; 83% of Republicans agreed compared to 46% of Democrats.
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