Poll: Only 18% of Americans Believe Calls to ‘Defund the Police’ Mean Eliminating Police Departments

RICHMOND, VA - JULY 03: A protester carries a sign that reads "Defund The Police" during the Black Women Matter "Say Her Name" march on July 3, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Protests continue around the country after the death of African Americans while in police custody. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty …
Eze Amos/Getty Images

Only 18 percent of Americans believe that those who are calling to “defund the police” actually want to eliminate police departments, a Monmouth Poll released Wednesday revealed.

Monmouth University Polling Institute conducted the survey June 26-30 among 867 U.S. adults. The survey asked, “When you hear people say they want to ‘Defund the Police’ – do you think most of them really want to get rid of police departments or do you think most of them just want to change the way police departments operate?”

The vast majority of respondents, 77 percent, said they believe those calling for defunding the police are simply hoping for change in the way police operate, whereas 18 percent said those touting the widespread slogan are hoping to “get rid of police.” Five percent said they were unsure.

“Most Americans see ‘Defund the Police’ as more of a general statement of purpose rather than an actual policy demand, at least for now,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

A closer look shows that Republicans are more likely to say that those calling to defund police are hoping for the elimination of police departments (28 percent). Nonetheless, the majority of Republicans (67 percent), independents (77 percent), and Democrats (90 percent) believe those who are touting the slogan simply want to change the way police operate. The survey also found that the overwhelming majority of black Americans, 93 percent, agree with that view.

Respondents were also asked, “Do you think there is more racism, less racism, or about the same amount of racism among police officers than among other groups in society?”

The majority of Americans, 51 percent, said there is the “same” amount of racism, compared to 28 percent who said “more” and 14 percent who said “less.” Seven percent indicated that they were unsure.

Respondents had mixed reviews when asked how the current movement would impact race relations. Thirty-one percent said it would improve “by a little,” 21 percent said it would improve by “a lot,” and 26 percent said it would “not really change.” Eleven percent believe the current movement will worsen race relations by “a lot,” while seven percent say it will only worsen the current state of race relations “a little.”

Regardless, the majority of Americans, 82 percent, are either very or somewhat hopeful regarding the future of race relations in the country.

The survey’s margin of error is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

More per Monmouth:

For context, 42 percent of adults in the current Monmouth University Poll identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. This includes about half of white Americans, 1 in 10 who are Black, 3 in 10 who are Hispanic, and 4 in 10 who are Asian or of another ethnic group. In other words, about three-quarters of all GOP identifiers are non-Hispanic white. By contrast, a little over half of non-Republicans are white, while just under 1 in 5 are Black and just under 1 in 5 are Hispanic.

As Monmouth notes, the survey was taken prior to President Trump’s Independence Day addresses —  particularly the July 3 Mount Rushmore speech, wherein Trump explained the “new far-left fascism” embraced by Democrats, laying out their tactics and ultimate agenda.

The survey comes as progressives continue in their calls to defund the police, as some cities, such as New York City and Los Angeles, move to do just that.

A Siena College Research Institute survey released last month found that the majority of voters across New York State opposed slashing police department funding, while a slight majority, 51 percent, in New York City, specifically, supported it.

Despite the majority of Americans viewing the demand to “defund the police” as a call to action rather than the literal elimination of police departments, the Minneapolis City Council has taken concrete steps to remove and replace its police department in recent weeks.

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