MINNEAPOLIS — When asked if they were bothered more by the death of George Floyd in police custody or by the widespread protests that resulted, most voters told pollsters they were more troubled by Floyd's death.
A NBC News - Wall Street Journal poll found that 59% of voters said they more disturbed by Floyd's death, while 27% said the protests were more troubling to them.
The new poll released Sunday interviewed 1,000 registered voters across the nation and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent. The surveys were conducted over a four-day period between May 28 and June 1 as massive demonstrations and fires were erupting across the Twin Cities.
"I think when people look at the situation, they’re trying to look at the central cause of the situation, the spark that ignites all the fires," political analyst Steven Schier told KARE.
"It’s very clear the death of George Floyd is the spark that created all the disruptions. And keep in mind the power of the visual image. People remember visual images much better than they remember written words."
There was a partisan divide on that question as well. A whopping 81% of Democrats found Floyd's death more concerning than the protests, while only 29% of Republican's said they were more bothered by what happened to Floyd than the resulting civil unrest.
"The partisan divisions that existed before the death of George Floyd are still with us during that time of turbulence," Schier remarked. "They seem to be pretty well fixed within the public and will probably show up in the polling booth in November."
There was much more agreement on another question: Do you believe things in this country are under control or out of control? A resounding 80% of respondents said they believe things are out of control.
Again, the poll was taken between May 28 and June 1, as Minneapolis was erupting and a police precinct headquarters was abandoned and then set on fire by demonstrators.
"Well, in a weekend when things were out of control, 80% of the public agreed! There were violent riots throughout the country. It was very hard to avoid the perception that things were out of control."
On the upcoming presidential election, the presumptive November candidates remained separated by only single digits.
Former Vice President Joe Biden led President Trump by a margin of 49% to 42%, reflecting the same general pattern from previous month's polls.
Most of those polled said they had more trust in President Trump when it comes to the economy and handling trade issues with China, but Biden led in a longer list of categories, including ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and unite the country.
Schier said this is why the economic recovery will be so important to the president's re-election hopes. The same poll had President Trump's approval rating holding relatively steady at 45%, compared to a 53% disapproval.
"It’s really quite striking that the president’s had a lot of negative media coverage since the George Floyd incident, but his support in the polls is pretty much where it was at about 45 percent."