The vast majority of voters in New York state believe systemic racism in the United State is a serious problem, a Siena College poll released Monday found.
The poll also found most voters view the killings of Rayshard Brooks and George Floyd part of a broader pattern of excessive police violence toward Black people.
The survey of New Yorkers and their views on police brutality and racism comes just over a month since the death of Floyd in Minneapolis and weeks of protest and demonstrations surrounding societal racism and inequality in all parts of the country.
Voters agree on some of the changes policymakers have sought in the last month, such as prohibiting chokeholds by police officers and boosting transparency for police misconduct, as well as broad support for a national database of police officer misconduct. But voters are not in agreement over calls to "defund" police departments that have been made by advocates in recent weeks.
All told, the poll comes as New York and the rest of the country is facing decades, if not centuries, of a debate surrounding racism, law enforcement and inequality in American life.
According to the pol, 81 percent of voters call systemic racism a serious problem confronting the United States — including 79 percent of white voters and 95 percent of Black voters in New York.
By a margin of 60 percent to 35 percent, New Yorkers view the killings of Black men by police officers part of a pattern, not isolated incidents. More than half of white voters, 54 percent, view the issue as part of a pattern.
And a large majority of voters —80 percent to 13 percent — back the package of laws approved by the state Legislature in June and signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo that end secrecy surrounding police disciplinary records, codifying a special investigations unit in the attorney general's office and adding criminal penalties for the use of chokeholds as being good for the state.
Sixty percent of voters, including 54 percent of white voters, support the protests and demonstrations held around the country against police brutality.
A similar majority of all voters, 60 percent, do not think people of color are treated fairly by the criminal justice system, the poll found.
“While there is some disagreement by race, party, geography, and age as to whether systemic racism in the country is a ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ serious problem, at least two-thirds of voters agree – regardless of race, party, region or age – that systemic racism is at least a somewhat serious problem,” Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg said. “At least two-thirds of Democrats, Blacks, Latinos, voters under 35 and New York City voters say systemic racism is a very serious problem. Fewer than 30 percent of any demographic group says that systemic racism is not a very or not at all a serious problem, except for self-identified conservatives, of whom 43 percent say it is not a serious problem."
But voters are split over calls to defund police agencies. The push to do so has meant different things, but has broadly centered around diverting government funds to have other workers address issues that are now taken up by police, such as homelessness.
Sixty percent of voters oppose defunding police departments, compared to 30 percent that support such a move. Black voters, by a 54 percent to 27 percent margin, are in favor as well as half of Latino voters. White voters oppose it, 67 percent to 24 percent.
Most voters, 70 percent to 22 percent, are supportive of their local police department, down from 81 percent to 16 percent when the question was last asked in 2015.
Also In The Poll
- Cuomo's favorability rating has changed little in the last month and stands at 65 percent to 31 percent. Voters support the job he is doing responding to Floyd's killing, 57 percent to 24 percent
- New York voters continue to hold a negative view of President Donald Trump, 64 percent to 27 percent
- Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to maintain a wide lead over the president in New York, 57 percent to 32 percent
The poll of 806 registered voters was conducted from June 23 to June 25. It has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
The poll's crosstabs can be found here.