Debates about police brutality and racial discrimination have lingered on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers this year.
The names of dead black men are used as shorthand for simmering tensions between police officers and the citizens they’re supposed to serve: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; Eric Garner in New York; Tamir Rice in Cleveland; Walter Scott in South Carolina; and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.
These deaths have sparked outrage, protests, violence — and discussions across the country that reveal ongoing polarities in how the races view related issues involving the criminal justice system and its treatment of black Americans.
Now Rare’s exclusive Under 40 poll has found sharp differences of opinion along racial and party lines, but not so much between younger Americans and their older counterparts.
Among young black respondents, 95 percent said it is not OK for police officers to make judgments about people based on race or ethnicity. Among whites, it was 57 percent.
And on this, Democrats and Republicans tended to agree — 79 percent of young Democrats and 56 percent of Republicans were against racial profiling.
But when the data is compared by generations, the differences narrow considerably, with just 3 percentage points separating older and younger Americans — the majority agreeing that police should not judge based on race or ethnicity.
Similar results were given when people were asked if police officers do, in fact, routinely make unfair judgments based on race. Younger people were slightly more likely to say this happens than their older counterparts.
Almost twice as many young Democrats over Republicans and blacks over whites said this occurs routinely.
Despite the responses to racial profiling and recent high-profile stories of police brutality, the majority of people still trust the police to do the right thing. And Republicans under 40 overwhelmingly do — 76 percent. Democrats and blacks disagree, with only 34 percent and 28 percent saying they trust police officers.
Over the next several days, we’ll explore 24 questions in-depth, taking a close look at the difference between age groups while also weighing key demographic differences such as political party, race and education. It’s also an opportunity to revisit the previous Rare Under 40 poll, which found young people hold surprising views on Obama, marijuana, God and more.
This Rare survey was conducted by Gravis Insights between April 27 and May 5. A total of 2,261 registered voters of all ages were interviewed about several issues using landlines, cellphones and Internet panels. Overall, the poll has a margin of error of ±2 percentage points and was weighted by select demographic characteristics.