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How Politics Influence How Whites View the Police

How race and police became a red-vs.-blue issue

Few things matter more than race when it comes to views of police. But political views matter a lot as well.

That was the main takeaway from our latest story on a Washington Post-ABC News poll, but we wanted to share a deeper look at the partisan and ideological gaps in how Whites view the justice system and police. The chart below shows how White Democrats, Republicans and independents answered five questions in the Post-ABC poll. The Pew Research Center generously provided breakdowns from their August survey asking similar questions. Click the dropdown menu to toggle between questions.

Two patterns jump out. First, White Republicans express more confidence in police on every measure, but the partisan differences among Whites are smaller in the Pew survey than in the Post-ABC poll. This could be due to different question wording, other methodological differences or timing — the Post-ABC survey came after grand jury verdicts in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases in addition to waves of protests. In addition, the smallest partisan difference came from the Pew question rating police "in your community" rather than nationwide, suggesting partisanship matters less in judging cops closer to home. (Most problems, after all, are bigger in the macro.)

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