Americans by a 2-to-1 margin are more troubled by the actions of police in the killing of black man George Floyd than by violence at some protests, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.
Overwhelming majorities of 80 per cent also felt that the country is spiralling out of control, said the poll, conducted among 1,000 registered voters from May 28 to June 2.
The poll also reveals striking partisan divides in how voters view a pair of unfolding national crises, including the unrest sparked by the killing of Floyd, the black Minneapolis man who was in police custody, as well as the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed more than 109,000 lives so far in the United States.
Nearly three-quarters of Democrats, 74 per cent, said it may take the next year or even longer to curb Covid-19 and return to work as normal. By contrast, among President Donald Trump's strongest supporters within the Republican Party, 32 per cent said the coronavirus is already contained.
About half of all Republicans, 48 per cent, said they were more concerned about the protests than the circumstances of Floyd's killing, while 81 per cent of Democrats held the opposite opinion.
However, the crises appear to have had little impact on Trump's standing as his job approval rating stood at 45 per cent, down 1 percentage point from April, according to the poll. His 7-point deficit against Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden remained unchanged. The Democrat candidate had 49 per cent support, with 42 per cent for Trump.
Trump's biggest advantage over Biden continued to surround economic issues. When asked who would be best at cutting the unemployment rate and getting people back to work, voters picked the president, 48 per cent to 35 per cent.
Since the midterm elections--a period that included the release of the Mueller report, an impeachment, a pandemic and civil-rights upheaval--Trump's approval rating has never dipped below 43 per cent and has never risen above 47 per cent, according to 18 polls during that time.
Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted the survey with Democrat Jeff Horwitt, said Trump's standing remained stable despite the political equivalent of getting repeatedly battered by Category 5 hurricanes.
Since the last week of April, the president's re-election campaign has spent more than USD13 million on TV and radio ads across eight battleground states and the District of Columbia, attacking Biden as soft on China while defending the president's response to the pandemic, according to data from political ad tracker Kantar/CMAG. Over the same time, America First Action, a super PAC supporting Trump, spent about USD5 million on ads with similar messages.
But 55 per cent of voters disapproved of Trump's handling of the virus, up from 52 per cent in April and 51 per cent in March.
Voters said they believed Biden would be better able than Trump to end political gridlock in Washington and behave competently and effectively in the job. They also viewed the Democrat as better at handling coronavirus, dealing with health-care issues and addressing the concerns of minorities.
Biden's biggest advantage over Trump, 51 per cent to 26 per cent, was on which candidate could bring the country together. That 25-point gap compared with a 14-point advantage on the same question for 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.