The Republican politicisation of protests has continued to the present. Donald Trump’s rise in 2016 has been linked to his continuing campaign against immigration across the southern border, but many of his supporters may have had the Ferguson and Baltimore riots of the mid-2010s in the back of their mind. It is no empty generalisation to say that Republicans rely on whites—and Democrats, non-whites—for their electoral successes; according to a study published by the Pew Research Centre on June 2nd, 81% of Republican voters are white, whereas only 59% of Democrats are. Offered a choice between Joe Biden and Mr Trump, African-Americans pick the Democrats’ presidential candidate nearly 90% of the time, according to The Economist’s latest polling data from YouGov.
The Republican Party’s increasing whiteness over the years has made it less amenable to making progress on racial justice. Although white voters generally agree with African-Americans’ grievances on police brutality, they focus on the violence and looting in the ensuing protests rather than on the broader social context. A majority of both whites and Republicans told YouGov that they thought race was a major or minor cause of George Floyd’s death, for example. But most also said that the protests were the result of black Americans’ “long-standing bias against the police” rather than “a genuine desire to hold police officers accountable”.
White Democrats, on the other hand, have moved to the left on racial issues, a product of political polarisation and “partisan sorting”. As Democratic elites adopted the ideas of African-American activists, so did the liberal whites who remained in the party. This has also changed the portrait of the average protester. Black Americans protesting against police violence are now joined by whites and Hispanics, the young and the old. Demonstrating against police brutality has become political and ideological, not just racial.
America’s political parties have not only grown further apart racially; they have also become angrier at each other https://t.co/RYKEWsiUCQ
— The Economist (@TheEconomist) June 2, 2020