POLL: Vast Majority of Americans Do NOT Support “Defunding the Police”

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds “defunding the police” has only 27% support from Americans compared to 57% who oppose.

Yahoo reports a near-universal majority of Americans support at least some changes to policing in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. There is majority support for proposals circulating in Congress to ban chokeholds and make it easier to track and charge officers accused of misconduct.

But the idea of “defunding the police” has little support from the public. It is by far the least popular of the policies surveyed, and is the only proposal opposed by more Americans than support it. Activists who are pushing the idea argue the criminal justice system is too corrupt and racist to reform, but it has largely been rejected by most Democratic Party politicians.

House and Senate Democrats unveiled their police reform legislation, crafted primarily by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, earlier this week. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, has voiced support for many of the legislation’s provisions.

The HuffPost/YouGov survey shows that the bill’s provisions ― including ending qualified immunity, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits, and developing a national standard for when police officers can use force ― are broadly popular. Democrats expect a majority of the House to line up behind the legislation by the end of the week.

President Donald Trump and Republicans, who control the Senate, have tasked their only Black member, Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), with developing their own police reform proposal.

Just 7% of Americans describe the country’s police system as basically sound and requiring essentially no changes, the HuffPost/YouGov survey finds, with another 37% saying it’s basically sound but needs some improvement. Another 48% say it’s “not too sound” or “not sound at all.”

Views are divided along both partisan and racial lines, with a plurality of both Democrats and Black Americans saying that the system is not sound at all and requires significant changes. But even among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, only 11% say no changes are necessary.

Republicans do have less appetite for significant reforms. About three-fifths of Republicans say the system needs just “some” improvement, while only 24% see a need for “many improvements” or “significant changes.”

The idea of “defunding the police” has attracted significant attention ― roughly half of Americans said they’d heard of it recently. Of the 10 proposals mentioned in the survey, only the call to ban police from using chokeholds has received more attention.

But the idea of defunding is also by far the least popular, with just 27% of Americans in favor. By contrast, solid majorities of the public favor banning police chokeholds (73% support this), creating a federal registry for complaints against officers (72%), developing a national standard for police use of force (69%), making it easier for the federal government to charge officers for using excessive force (68%), assigning independent prosecutors to handle cases where officers use fatal force (67%) and eliminating officers’ “qualified immunity” against misconduct lawsuits (59%).

There’s more modest support for barring the use of “no-knock” warrants in drug cases (49%) and for limiting the transfer of military equipment to police departments (46%). The public is almost evenly divided on a proposal to cut the budget of their local police department, and instead increase spending on services like social workers and mental health professionals.