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Poll: Majority of Minnesotans recognize racial inequality but divides exist by region, politics

The poll asked Minnesotans for opinions on the death of George Floyd, criminal justice equality, and thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — More than four months after the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, a new poll reveals what some Minnesotans think about the role of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

A new KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll finds more than half of Minnesotans who responded (52%) believe the death of George Floyd is part of broader problems in the treatment of Black people by Minneapolis police; while 36% believe Floyd's death was an isolated incident. 

When asked if the criminal justice system does or does not treat Black people and white people equally, 31% of poll respondents statewide said the system does treat the races equally, while 56% said it does not. 

The results varied somewhat by region, with 70% of those polled in Hennepin and Ramsey counties saying the justice system does not treat people of different races equally. That was significantly higher than the 43% who gave the same response in northern Minnesota, although that figure was still higher than the number who said the justice system is equal (35%).

The results were also sharply divided along party lines, with majorities of Democrats (77%) and independents (55%) saying the system is not equal, compared to a majority of Republicans (56%) who said the justice system does treat the races equally.

Credit: KARE

On a related topic, the poll asked Minnesotans which is the bigger problem: police violence against Black people nationwide, or civilian violence against people and property in U.S. cities? 

Statewide, the poll found 52% said civilian violence was a bigger worry, versus 35% who cited police violence as the primary concern. Hennepin and Ramsey counties were the only areas of the state to say police violence (48%) was a bigger concern than civilian violence (36%).

There was also a wide gap between Biden and Trump supporters, with 64% of likely Biden voters citing police violence, compared to only 5% of likely Trump voters who felt that way. 

Credit: KARE

Minnesotans were most split on how they feel about the Black Lives Matter movement: 42% of poll respondents statewide have a favorable opinion of BLM, while 46% do not. 

Once again, Hennepin and Ramsey counties differed from the rest of the state, with 58% having a favorable opinion of Black Lives Matter; in the Twin Cities suburbs and the rest of the state, a majority of those responding had an unfavorable view. 

Also once again, there was a wide gap politically with only 4% of Trump voters having a favorable opinion of BLM, compared to 76% of Biden voters.

Credit: KARE

An earlier August poll of only Minneapolis residents showed 80% of people in the city viewed BLM favorably.

The KARE 11/MPR News/Star Tribune Minnesota Poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategy, surveying 800 registered Minnesota voters by phone (both landline and cell) from Sept. 21 through Sept. 23.

The poll has a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points. That means there is a 95% probability that the "true" figure would fall within that range if every single voter were surveyed. The margin of error is higher for subgroups like age and gender.

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