with Brent D. Griffiths
THE NUMBERS ARE IN: Americans overwhelmingly believe that police forces in America have not done enough to ensure that blacks are treated equally to whites — and that the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a sign of a broader problem within law enforcement rather than an isolated incident, according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll out this morning.
More than 2 in 3 Americans — a whopping 69 percent — said that Floyd's killing represents a broader problem in law enforcement, while just 29 percent say it's an isolated incident. That's a dramatic shift compared to reactions to the 2014 police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo, and New York, according to our colleagues Scott Clement and Dan Balz.
- “Six years ago, 43 percent described those deaths as indicative of broader problems in policing while 51 percent saw those killings as isolated incidents,” our colleagues write.
There's even starker agreement across political and demographic groups on the need for change within the law enforcement system: 81 percent said police need to continue to make changes to address inequitable treatment of whites and blacks. Only 13 percent said they have made the needed changes.
- “On this question, clear majorities across political and demographic groups say police need to do more, with the smallest majorities among those identifying as ‘very conservative’ (59 percent), Republicans (66 percent) and those with incomes of $100,000 or more (72 percent),” our colleagues write. “All other groups expressed even higher levels of support in saying more action is needed by police to achieve equal treatment.”
Read the room: The fresh polling — which also found broad support for the nationwide protests — is a clear example of the dramatic shift of American attitudes about police violence toward black Americans. Such broad public support could be a sign that the mass protests across the country against racism and police brutality may this time spark enough public pressure for policy change at the local level — and in Washington, where lawmakers of both parties are introducing and crafting police overhaul bills.
It also highlights how pressure may build on President Trump, who has praised law enforcement and not yet suggested any concrete policy changes, to address the core issues driving the protesters. The breakdown shows 90 percent of Democrats, 66 percent of Republicans, and 84 percent of independents say police need to continue making changes to address inequitable treatment between blacks and whites by police.
“The president is way on the wrong side of the growing national consensus that evidences a big shift in attitudes among whites, including Republicans,” Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School, told our colleagues. “Even the GOP consensus is splintering.”
- Since 2014, there's been a 26-point shift on the perception that the killings represent broader problems: “Currently, 86 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents and 47 percent of Republicans say the Floyd killing represents a broader problem rather than an isolated incident. Over 2 in 3 whites and 3 in 4 nonwhites say the same,” Scott and Dan write.
- “Among both Republicans and independents, the shift is 28 points while among Democrats it is 21 points. The biggest changes are among whites overall (33-point shift) and white women (38-point shift).”
The other stat we're watching: Police kill nearly 1,000 people every year, despite police promises for reforms. The Post started tallying how many people were shot and killed by police after protests against the use of deadly force by police in 2015.
- “This toll has proved impervious to waves of protests … The number killed has remained steady despite fluctuating crime rates, changeovers in big-city police leadership and a nationwide push for criminal justice reform,” Mark Berman, John Sullivan, Julie Tate and Jennifer Jenkins report.
- What's changed and what hasn't: “Since The Post began tracking the shootings, black people have been shot and killed by police at disproportionate rates — both in terms of overall shootings and the shootings of unarmed Americans. The number of black and unarmed people fatally shot by police has declined since 2015, but whether armed or not, black people are still shot and killed at a disproportionately higher rate than white people.”
Trump rebuffed the idea that there are systemic problems in police forces during a roundtable with law enforcement. “Our police have been letting us live in peace,” Trump told reporters. “And we want to make sure we don’t have any bad actors in there and sometimes we’ll see some horrible things like we witnessed recently, but I say 99.9 — let’s go with 99 percent of them — great, great people and they’ve done jobs that are record setting.”
- Trump, whom the White House has said is weighing some proposals in response to Floyd's death, said: “The police are doing an incredible job. We're going to talk about ideas how we can do it better and how we can do it if possible in a much more gentle fashion.” Trump also rejected calls from liberal activists to disband or defund police departments.
- Doubling down: “A senior White House official said the president recognizes that he needs to address racial issues, but this person emphasized that Trump believes he is on solid political footing in focusing on the need for strong law enforcement, noting that the recent looting and vandalism in many cases harmed black-owned small businesses,” our colleagues Ashley Parker and David Nakamura report.
- But even some of those present at Trump's roundtable today urged the president to support changes to police practices: “Sheriff Tony Childress of Livingston County in Illinois endorsed mandatory de-escalation training for officers; a ban on all physical restraint on or above the neck and any acts that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain; and requirements that officers render medical aid and intervene when physical force is being inappropriately applied,” per the New York Times's Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker.
Split screen: Congressional Democrats unveiled a sweeping legislative proposal to overhaul police practices and increase oversight on Monday, “urging [Trump] and Republicans to rapidly embrace measures aimed at boosting law enforcement accountability, changing police practices and curbing racial profiling,” according to our colleagues Paul Kane and John Wagner.
- The Justice in Policing Act of 2020 “would ban chokeholds, establish a national database to track police misconduct and prohibit certain no-knock warrants, among other initiatives. The bill, which has more than 200 Democratic co-sponsors, contains several provisions that would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct in civil and criminal court.”
- One proposal long sought by civil rights advocates: A change for “'qualified immunity,' the legal doctrine that shields officers from lawsuits, by lowering the bar for plaintiffs to sue officers for alleged civil rights violations.”
Yet key Democrats “also sought to distance themselves from the growing calls from liberal activists to ‘defund the police’ — a slogan that Trump and fellow Republicans have seized upon to portray Democrats as weak on crime,” our colleagues write.
- Former vice president Joe Biden's campaign said the candidate backs numerous provisions in the Democrats' bill but that he opposes “defunding” and “dismantling” police departments.
Some congressional Republicans are also pushing for change: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) is also introducing a police reform bill with other Republican senators. “The Utah Republican, who marched with Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington on Sunday, is working with a handful of GOP senators on a bill aimed at garnering broad support from members of both parties and both chambers,” according to Politico's Andrew Desiderio.
It remains to be seen whether Democrats' proposals will yield an electoral boost in November. But 50 percent of Americans say that they prefer a president “who can address the nation’s racial divisions, compared with 37 percent who say they want a president who can restore security by enforcing the law," according to the Post-Schar poll.
- “While the poll did not measure presidential preference, Biden has campaigned as best suited to unite the country’s racial divisions, while Trump has cast himself as best to restore security, repeatedly tweeting “LAW AND ORDER!” in recent days," Scott and Dan write.
Also striking: Americans broadly support the nationwide protests that have swept the country since Floyd's death and do not approve of Trump's handling of the protests.
- The recent demonstrations appeal to both Democrats and Republicans with 74 percent of Americans overall showing support for the protests that are being carried out around the country. And “87 percent of Democrats saying they support them, along with 76 percent of independents. Among Republicans, the majority — 53 percent — also back the protests," they write.
- “Trump receives negative marks for his handling of the protests, with 61 percent saying they disapprove and 35 percent saying they approve. Much opposition to Trump is vehement, with 47 percent of Americans say they strongly disapprove of the way the president has responded to the protests.”
However: “Republicans generally agree with views of the protests expressed by Trump. Last week he called himself “your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protests” in a Rose Garden statement made as police and military troops forcibly cleared a protest near the White House.”
- And Republicans also approve of the president's handling of the protests: “More than 7 in 10 Republicans approve of Trump’s handling of the protests, a view shared by just over one-third (35 percent) of the overall population. Republicans also have a more negative view of the protests; while 43 percent of the public say the protests have been “mostly violent,” 65 percent of Republicans hold this view.”
BIDEN MET WITH FLOYD'S FAMILY: The former vice president also recorded a message that will play at Floyd's final funeral today.
What he said: "Jill [Biden] and I talked to them about – it’s hard enough to grieve but it’s much harder to do it in public," Biden said. “It’s much harder with the whole world watching,” he told CBS'S Norah O'Donnell in an interview that will air in full later tonight. “They’re an incredible family. His little daughter was there, the one who said, ‘Daddy’s going to change the world.’”
- “And I think her daddy is going to change the world,” Biden continued. "I think what’s happened here is one of those great inflection points in American history, for real, in terms of civil liberties, civil rights, and just treating people with dignity.”
BIDEN'S LONG TIES TO POLICE MAY UNDERCUT CALLS FOR CHANGE: “Biden’s deep relationship with police groups while crafting the landmark 1994 legislation reflected his decades-long partnership with them as he embraced a tough-on-crime persona — one that extended from his time in the Senate to his work as vice president when he served as a liaison between police and the White House,” Michael Kranish reports. "But now, as Biden runs for president amid a national reckoning over police violence and racial injustice, that long alliance is threatening to undermine a cornerstone of his candidacy.
- But those relationships frayed after Ferguson: “After the Obama administration’s investigation of several killings of black people by white officers, some of the national police organizations that once backed Biden all but ended their relationship with him,” our colleague writes. The National Association of Police Organizations endorsed the Obama-Biden ticket both times, but the group's president Bill Johnson felt Biden was changing his views about law enforcement “for political reasons.”
Inside the Beltway
MAYOR BOWSER'S MOMENT: “In a city famous for political bombast, Bowser is known as a cautious leader who expresses herself in the forgettable words of a government bureaucrat. Now, in the span of a week, she has turned into a fresh voice of the resistance, buffeted by Trump’s threat of a federal takeover and his use of racist language to criticize street protests over the death of George Floyd,” Paul Schwartzman and Fenit Nirappil report.
- Bowser speaks: "People felt, and feel, like we have to fight for ourselves as black people, we have to fight for our city as Washingtonians,” she told our colleagues. “We have to beat back this aggressive, this kind of all-out assault on our traditions as Americans.”
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED IN LAFAYETTE SQUARE: “Drawing on footage captured from dozens of cameras, as well as police radio communications and other records, The Washington Post reconstructed the events of this latest remarkable hour of Trump’s presidency, including of the roles of the agencies involved and the tactics and weaponry they used,” Dalton Bennett, Sarah Cahlan, Aaron C. Davis and Joyce Lee report.
Outside the Beltway
THE STOCK MARKET HITS RECORDS AMID PANDEMIC AND PROTESTS: “The tech-heavy Nasdaq stormed to a record 9,924.75, a 110-point, or 1.1 percent, gain on the day. The previous milestone, 9,817.18, was set in February. The S&P 500 finished at 3,232.39, up nearly 1.2 percent, to erase its losses for the year,” Thomas Heath and Taylor Telford report.
- What's happening: “This appears to be the triumph of hope over experience,” Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington told our colleagues. “People are believing the win-win scenario, which means either the recovery happens and corporate earnings really do recover and go up. Or it means the government continues to add stimulus. In short, the market doesn’t believe these are problems that a couple more trillion from the federal government can’t solve.”
On K Street
CHRISTIE BECOMES A LOBBYIST: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is now a registered federal lobbyist. Christie, through his firm Christie 55 Solutions (he was New Jersey's 55th governor) will lobby for CleanSlate Centers, a Nashville-based chain of addiction treatment centers with locations in 11 states, Politico's Theodoric Meyer first reported.
- It's somewhat of a full circle for the governor: He began his political career as member of and lobbyist for the University of Delaware's student government traveling to Dover and, yes, D.C., as Matt Katz's chronicled for WYNC in 2015. Back then, he was trying to pressure the Reagan administration over proposed student loan cuts. He even personally talked to one of the state's U.S. senators, Joe Biden. In New Jersey, he lobbied the state government in Trenton in the early 90s after a disastrous stint in a county office that was derailed by an inaccurate ad that helped win in the first place.
- Now: Christie will team up with his former chief of staff Rich Bagger, who was already a registered lobbyist, to lobby on “the provision of substance use disorder treatment” and the implementation of historically large Cares Act, according to their filing.
TRIAL AND MARGIN OF ERROR: Alexander Pope taught us to err is human; to forgive, divine. But at what point is it no longer, well, mean to ditch a pollster who repeatedly misses races? Our colleague Ben Terris posed this question in 2014 when then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor suffered a historic upset by 10 points when just weeks earlier his pollster said he would romp with a 34-point lead. Cantor's pollster, John McLaughlin, didn't even lose a single client over the affair.
On Monday, Trump revealed that McLaughlin is working for the him and spreading the truth by showing how the polls are wrong.
I have retained highly respected pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, to analyze todays CNN Poll (and others), which I felt were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving. Read analysis for yourself. This is the same thing they and others did when we defeated...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
Twitter, as one might expect, had some fun.
NBC News's Benjy Sarlin with a trip down memory lane:
Former senior Cantor aide Doug Heye:
NPR's Domenico Montanaro reminded us that even Republicans had this warning:
McLaughlin had E.Cantor up by 34 pts before losing by 11 in 2014. The NRCC warned candidates to steer clear bc Cantor wasn't the first... Linda McMahon, Tom Smith, George Allen, Romney in VA, Bob Dold, Richard Tisei -- all in the McLaughlin graveyard https://t.co/C3AJlZUyXR https://t.co/9p74AZJg9e— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) June 8, 2020