“Surprising agreement.” That’s how a University of Massachusetts-Amherst pollster describes results of a national survey that asked Americans about the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial last week.
“In a nation rife with divisions over race, class, generation and gender, there is a surprising agreement on the issue of whether Chauvin’s verdict was justified,” said Tatishe Nteta, who directed last week’s poll.
The survey, conducted with WCVB, found that out of 1,000 people asked, nearly 70 percent believe that Chavin’s two guilty verdicts in the murder of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis, as well as a third count of manslaughter, were justified.
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The poll found that 55 percent of respondents view the verdicts as “definitely” justified. When asked whether Chauvin had received a fair trial, 60 percent said he had. But, 22 percent said that he had not.
Nearly half of people who identified themselves as Donald Trump voters believed that Chauvin should receive little or no sentence.
On sentencing, 30 percent said Chauvin should be given the maximum length he faces — 40 years in prison. The poll broke down reactions to other possible sentencing outcomes.
Eleven percent said he should be imprisoned for 31 to 39 years. Twenty percent of the poll’s participants said Chauvin should serve one to 10 years in prison, while 4 percent said he should not receive any prison time.
In the middle, two groups of respondents — each representing 17 percent of the whole — said Chauvin should be imprisoned for 11 to 20 years and 21 to 23 years.
Jesse Rhodes, professor of political science at UMass, said the race of the respondent “profoundly” influenced how people saw the trial outcome. African Americans, Latinx and Asian Americans were far more likely to see the verdicts as fair, compared with whites, Rhodes said in a statement released by the university.
“At the same time, it is notable that a solid majority of whites (56%) supported the verdict. In a nation with such a troubled racial history and present, it is extremely rare — and perhaps unprecedented — that a majority of whites support the conviction of a white police officer for the murder of a Black man.”
The poll was conducted April 21-23. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percent.