After a mass shooting in Atlanta that killed six Asian women, conversation turned to gun control, defining what a hate crime and raising awareness about anti-Asian discrimination.
Gun control has been a long-standing issue dividing the parties, while hate crime legislation currently exists in all but three states: Wyoming, South Carolina and Arkansas. And even in these three states, hate crime bills have been introduced.
The latest Economist/YouGov poll was conducted entirely after the Atlanta shooting, but was ongoing as a separate shooting in Boulder, Colorado took place. Nearly nine in ten had heard about the Atlanta shootings, and for nearly half the public (47%), this was a hate crime. Slightly more (52%) said it was a violent crime. Respondents could choose as many options as they wished.
Women were 17-points more likely (55%) than men (38%) to consider the Atlanta shootings a hate crime, and Black Americans were 23-points more likely (66%) than white Americans (43%) to say this.
Democrats (74%) were three times more likely than Republicans (25%) to label the Atlanta shooting hate crimes. Republicans were more likely to describe the shootings as violent crime (48%) and mental illness (52%). Only one in four adults overall (23%) labeled the event as terrorism.
Most Americans (56%) see hate crimes on the increase nationally, and 27% say hate crimes are rising in their own community.
How America’s perception of discrimination against Asian Americans has changed
The shooting in Atlanta altered the perception of how much discrimination Asian-Americans face. Ten years ago, just 5% said Asian-Americans faced “a great deal” of discrimination. One year ago, just after Americans began to experience the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (and one in five Americans admitted to using terms like “China virus” and “Kung Flu”), that percentage rose to 16%.
In the last year, that percentage has doubled to 33%. In addition, two-thirds see at least a fair amount of discrimination (69%), an increase of 16 points since 2020 (53%) and 40 points since 2011 (29%).
Democrats (88%) are more likely than Republicans (50%) to see a lot or a fair amount of discrimination directed at Asian Americans.
As for gun control, there is also a wide party divide. Democrats (79%) are three times more willing than Republicans (26%) to make gun laws stricter, while Republicans (18%) are six times as likely as Democrats (3%) to want them to be less strict. Half of Republicans (51%), but just one in nine Democrats (11%) want no change at all in gun laws. Women (55%), Latinos (55%), and Black Americans (67%) are (and have been) most supportive of stricter gun laws.
Methodology: The Economist survey was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 1,500 US Adult Citizens interviewed online between March 20 - 23, 2021. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the US Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 Presidential vote, registration status, geographic region, and news interest. Respondents were selected from YouGov’s opt-in panel to be representative of all US citizens. The margin of error is approximately 2.9% for the overall sample