Americans split on effectiveness of protest marches

March 28, 2018, 6:30 PM GMT+0

Most Republicans say they don’t work; most Democrats say they do

Last weekend’s “March for Our Lives” received more attention from Americans than the President’s Friday ban on transgender troops, the imposition of tariffs on China, and even the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica transactions. Nearly half the public in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll had heard a lot about the march – only about a third said the same about each of the other events and issues. More than a third of respondents had watched coverage of the March.

But did the March change minds? In a new question, the poll showed nationwide opposition to arming teachers and school administrators, although Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly support this proposal.

African-Americans are especially opposed to arming teachers: only 21% support it, 65% do not. City and suburban residents oppose arming teachers; support increases in rural and small town America. 56% of gun owners support arming teachers.

However, repeated questions showed little change. Opinion of the National Rifle Association has not changed at all from before the march. This week, 38% of the public hold a favorable opinion of the NRA, 41% are unfavorable. 57% – the same percentage as before the March – favor stricter gun laws. Nearly two in three would raise the minimum age to buy firearms to 21.

Americans divide on whether or not marches like the “March for Our Lives” are effective. The pattern of opinion on this mirrors the partisan pattern on many other questions. Democrats think marches are effective, Republicans say they are not.

The President, who last week ordered the Justice Department to ban “bump stocks,” devices that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into the equivalent of a machine gun, saw his approval rating on gun control rise a bit. Last week, public disapproval on this issue was 20 points higher than approval. This week, that difference was cut in half.

All the gains came from independents and Democrats, who are much more likely than Republicans to favor gun control. The President’s overall approval changed little. This week 39% approve, 49% do not.

Read more topline and table results here

Photo: Getty