FDU Poll: A year later, Newark residents see little progress on police reforms

For Immediate Release

 

 

Contact:                           

Dan Cassino, Executive Director, FDU Poll    

973.896.7072/dcassino@fdu.edu             

A year later, Newark residents see little progress on police reforms

Reminding people of BLM protests cuts their faith in voting

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, August 31, 2021 – In the more than a year since more than 12,000 people marched in Newark as part of the wave of Black Lives Matter protests carried out nationwide last year, residents of the state’s largest city say that they’ve seen little progress on police reforms. In the FDU Poll, conducted in three languages, residents also say that voting is the most effective way of making political change – but their faith in that efficacy has been cut by the experience of the BLM protests. This drop in the belief that people can make political change is the biggest among Black respondents: for them, the memory of BLM reduces political efficacy across the board.

Overall, only 12 percent of Newark residents say that there has been “a lot” or “a great deal” of progress on police reform and related matters in the time since the Black Lives Matter protests in the city. The largest group (33 percent) say that there has been “a little” progress, but a quarter (23 percent) say that there has been no progress at all. While these assessments don’t vary significantly across racial and ethnic groups in Newark, Democrats are less likely than other partisan groups to say that no progress has been made (18 percent, versus 25 for Republicans and 37 for independents).

Residents are only a little more optimistic about the likelihood of progress being made in the upcoming year. Nineteen percent of residents – and 23 percent of Black residents in the city – say that they expect no progress at all in the next year, but a majority (60 percent) say that they expect “a little” or “some” progress on these issues. This figure includes 63 percent of Hispanic residents and 62 percent of whites, but a significantly smaller share (57 percent) of Black residents.

“The BLM protests were a moment of real anger, but also real hope that change was possible,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll. “Even in a city with leadership that’s friendly to police reforms, few people think that a lot of progress has been made.”

Newark residents were also asked about various ways of making political change. Of the seven ways of making their voices heard that the survey asked, residents are most likely to say that voting works, with 62 percent saying that it is “very effective,” and only 6 percent saying that it is “not at all effective.” In contrast, only 13 percent of Newark residents say that disruptive or violent protests are “very effective,” and 40 percent say that peaceful protests are.

“The history of violent protests in the 60s continues to shape the views of Newark residents,” said Cassino. “More than 50 years later, Newark residents still reject violence as a way of making political change.”

While the overall results on views of political efficacy believe that government responds to elections and peaceful protests, this faith seems to have been shaken by the experience of the BLM protests last year. In the survey, half of the respondents were randomly assigned to be asked questions about political efficacy before being asked about progress on police reforms; half were asked afterward. This means that half of the respondents were primed to be thinking about the BLM protests and their results when they were answering questions about ways of making political change: those respondents were less likely to think that voting actually works.

Sixty-six percent of respondents who were asked about how to make political change before being asked about the BLM protests say that voting is “very effective.” But when the battery was asked after the questions about BLM protests, only 57 percent say that voting is “very effective.”

Among Newark residents overall, reminders of the BLM protests have only a modest effect reducing the perceived efficacy of political actions. The effect is much bigger among Black respondents. Priming them to think about the BLM protests and police reform reduces the likelihood that they rate voting as “very effective” by nine points, but also makes them six points less likely to say that peaceful protests are “very effective” (from 44 percent to 38 percent; the difference among residents overall is just 3 points).

“There’s a basic belief that people can make political change through normal democratic means,” said Cassino. “But that belief seems to have been really tested by the experience of the BLM protests, and the failure to see the changes that they may have been hoping for.”

Importantly, this decline in the perceived efficacy of traditional means of political action such as voting, contacting elected officials and peaceful protest is not accompanied by an increased belief in the efficacy of violent or disruptive protests. Instead, among Black respondents, reminders of the BLM protests reduce the perceived efficacy of political actions across the board.

There are other significant differences in how Newark residents think that they can make political change. Democrats, for instance, are much more likely to think that voting and contacting elected officials are “very effective” means of influencing politics than Republicans or independents are. Older Newark residents are much more likely than younger ones to say that voting is effective (72 percent of residents 65 and over say it’s “very effective,” compared with 54 percent of those 30 and under), and younger ones are more likely to say that social media posts can make a difference (42 percent of those 30 and under say they are “very effective,” compared with 20 percent of those 65 and up).

“People’s views of political efficacy are shaped by what they see,” said Cassino. “Young people have seen the effect that videos on social media have had, and they see that as being a more effective way to influence politics than protests.”

In a troubling turn, younger Newark residents are more likely than older ones to say that disruptive or violent protests are “very effective,” though the overall numbers are still low (14 percent among those 30 and under; 10 percent among those 65 and older). Still, the trend is real: 39 percent of voters 30 and under say that violent or disruptive protests are “very” or “somewhat” effective, compared to just 27 percent of the oldest cohort.

Among Black residents of Newark, social media posts are seen as the second most effective way of influencing politics, tied with peaceful protests, as 40 percent see each of them as being “very effective.” In contrast, only 18 percent of white residents say that social media posts are “very effective” in creating political change.

“Social media is a way of leveling the political playing field,” said Cassino. “So, it’s no surprise that traditionally disadvantaged groups see it as an important way of making their voices heard.”

Methodology

The survey was conducted between July 9 and August 11, 2021, using a certified list of residents of Newark, New Jersey. Voters were randomly chosen from the list and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (827) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (273) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list. The survey covers 1,100 Newark residents, ages 18 and older, and was conducted mostly in English (1039), with the remainder in Spanish (57) and Portuguese (4). The survey was carried out by Braun Research, Inc, of Princeton, New Jersey. Of the interviews, 146 were conducted over landlines, the remainder via cell phones.

The survey included a significant oversample of African-American/Black voters in Newark, which allows for more accurate comparisons between this and other groups, as well as the calculation of subgroup characteristics that would not be possible in a simple probability sample. Such oversamples necessarily require additional weighting in order to calculate population-level values, but the weights used for this are not included in the calculation of design effects, as they do not indicate a divergence between the sample and the population.

The data were weighted to be representative of the registered voter population of New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.25.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 1100 residents of Newark is +/-2.96 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.73 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects.

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

1100 Newark Residents

Figures do not include respondents who declined to answer the demographic item in question

 

Man                                 

47%                 N = 526

Woman                            

50%                 N = 548

Some Other Way               

1%                  N = 13

 

18-24

14%                 N = 157

25-34                          

21%                 N = 234

35-44                          

18%                 N = 201

45-64                          

29%                 N = 311

65+                              

13%                 N = 146

 

Democrat (with leaners)             

59%                 N = 645

Independent

13%                 N = 142

Republican (with leaners)

10%                 N = 111

 

White                                           

11%                N = 124

Black                                              

49%                N = 528

Hispanic/Latino/a                                     

36%                N = 387

Asian                                       

2%                  N = 23

Other/Multi-racial                                    

2%                  N = 22

 

HS or Less                                    

34%                N = 376

Some College/Vocational           

30%                N = 329

College degree or more             

34%                N = 377

 

Question wording and order

Approval items released on 23 August

[Half of the respondents get these items before P1; Half get them after P2] P3A-G. What follows are various ways in which people might try to have their voices heard on social and political matters. For each, tell me how effective you think that method is:

 

[Shuffle Order of Items]

  1. Voting
  2. Peaceful Protests
  3. Contacting Elected Officials
  4. Social Media Posts
  5. Online petitions
  6. Boycotts
  7. Disruptive or Violent Protests

 

Very Effective

Somewhat Effective

Not Very Effective

Not At All Effective

[DK/REF]

 

P1. Last Summer, there were worldwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Since those protests, how much progress do you feel has been made on police reform and related issues?

None at all

A Little

Some

A Lot

A Great Deal

[DK/REF]

 

P2. And how much progress do you think will be made on police reform and related issues in the next year?

None at all

A Little

Some

A Lot

A Great Deal

[DK/REF]

 

School/Segregation Items released 8/26

Release Tables

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How Effective is Each of the Following?

% Very Effective

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Voting

62

64

61

62

Peaceful Protest

40

33

40

42

Social Media Posts

35

18

40

33

Boycotts

34

25

39

32

Contacting Elected Officials

26

21

27

27

Online Petitions

19

17

21

18

Disruptive/Violent Protests

13

10

12

13

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective is Each of the Following?

% Very Effective

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Voting

62

54

56

70

72

Peaceful Protest

40

37

40

41

44

Social Media Posts

35

42

38

34

20

Boycotts

34

32

33

39

34

Contacting Elected Officials

26

24

25

28

27

Online Petitions

19

20

21

19

13

Disruptive/Violent Protests

13

14

15

10

10

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective is Each of the Following?

% Very Effective

Dem

Indp

Rep

Voting

62

71

54

51

Peaceful Protest

40

45

32

35

Social Media Posts

35

37

30

31

Boycotts

34

38

32

32

Contacting Elected Officials

26

29

28

18

Online Petitions

19

20

24

17

Disruptive/Violent Protests

13

12

12

13

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective is Voting

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Very Effective

62

54

56

70

72

Somewhat Effective

25

29

29

20

17

Not Very Effective

5

6

7

3

4

Not At All Effective

6

7

7

5

5

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

4

1

2

2

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective is Voting

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Very Effective

62

71

54

52

Somewhat Effective

25

22

28

24

Not Very Effective

5

2

9

7

Not At All Effective

6

3

9

16

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

2

0

1

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective is Peaceful Protest

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Very Effective

40

37

40

41

44

Somewhat Effective

38

39

34

38

39

Not Very Effective

10

11

12

10

5

Not At All Effective

10

9

13

9

9

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

4

1

2

3

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective is Peaceful Protest

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Very Effective

40

45

32

35

Somewhat Effective

38

39

38

24

Not Very Effective

10

7

17

15

Not At All Effective

10

7

13

21

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

2

0

5

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How Effective is Contacting Elected Officials

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Very Effective

26

21

26

27

Somewhat Effective

39

38

40

38

Not Very Effective

17

23

17

16

Not At All Effective

14

16

12

15

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

4

2

5

4

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective is Contacting Elected Officials

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Very Effective

26

29

28

18

Somewhat Effective

39

41

31

34

Not Very Effective

17

17

19

19

Not At All Effective

14

9

20

27

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

4

4

2

2

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective are Social Media Posts

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Very Effective

35

42

38

34

20

Somewhat Effective

39

36

35

41

47

Not Very Effective

10

10

12

8

12

Not At All Effective

11

10

13

10

12

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

2

2

7

9

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How Effective are Social Media Posts

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Very Effective

35

18

40

33

Somewhat Effective

39

39

39

41

Not Very Effective

10

22

9

7

Not At All Effective

11

19

8

13

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

2

4

6

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective are Social Media Posts

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Very Effective

35

37

30

31

Somewhat Effective

39

41

35

34

Not Very Effective

10

10

15

11

Not At All Effective

11

8

19

21

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

4

1

3

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective are Online Petitions

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Very Effective

19

20

21

19

13

Somewhat Effective

43

43

44

44

44

Not Very Effective

16

19

16

13

17

Not At All Effective

15

13

15

17

14

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

5

4

7

12

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How Effective are Boycotts

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Very Effective

34

25

39

32

Somewhat Effective

35

36

37

28

Not Very Effective

11

19

9

10

Not At All Effective

13

17

8

18

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

3

7

12

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How Effective are Boycotts

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Very Effective

34

38

32

32

Somewhat Effective

35

38

32

24

Not Very Effective

11

9

12

14

Not At All Effective

13

9

16

23

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

6

8

7

  

 

 

 

 

Age

 

How Effective are Disruptive/Violent Protests

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Very Effective

13

14

15

10

10

Somewhat Effective

18

25

19

12

17

Not Very Effective

19

21

17

21

17

Not At All Effective

45

34

45

53

49

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

6

4

4

7

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How Effective are Disruptive/Violent Protests

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Very Effective

13

10

12

13

Somewhat Effective

18

20

20

15

Not Very Effective

19

18

19

19

Not At All Effective

45

48

44

48

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

4

5

5

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How much progress do you feel has been made on police reform and related

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

None at All

23

25

24

22

A Little

33

24

38

28

Some

27

38

23

30

A Lot

7

6

6

6

A Great Deal

5

4

5

6

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

3

4

8

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How much progress do you feel has been made on police reform and related

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

None at All

23

18

37

25

A Little

33

39

18

23

Some

27

28

28

23

A Lot

7

7

5

11

A Great Deal

5

5

6

3

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

3

6

15

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How much progress do you think will be made on police reform in the next year?

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

None at All

19

18

23

14

A Little

31

34

30

32

Some

29

28

27

31

A Lot

8

9

8

8

A Great Deal

7

6

6

8

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

5

6

7

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

How much progress do you think will be made on police reform in the next year?

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

None at All

19

16

24

22

A Little

31

34

32

21

Some

29

30

25

32

A Lot

8

10

2

8

A Great Deal

7

6

10

6

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

4

7

11

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective is Voting

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

62

66

57

Somewhat Effective

25

20

29

Not Very Effective

5

5

5

Not At All Effective

6

6

7

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

3

2

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective are Peaceful Protests

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

40

41

38

Somewhat Effective

38

37

38

Not Very Effective

10

10

10

Not At All Effective

10

9

12

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

2

3

2

  

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective is Contacting Elected Officials

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

26

28

23

Somewhat Effective

39

36

42

Not Very Effective

17

16

18

Not At All Effective

14

15

13

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

4

5

4

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective are Social Media Posts

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

35

35

35

Somewhat Effective

39

37

42

Not Very Effective

10

12

8

Not At All Effective

11

12

10

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

4

5

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective are Online Petitions

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

19

21

17

Somewhat Effective

43

42

45

Not Very Effective

16

17

15

Not At All Effective

15

14

16

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

6

7

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective are Violent/Disruptive Protests

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

13

13

11

Somewhat Effective

18

17

20

Not Very Effective

19

20

18

Not At All Effective

45

45

45

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

5

5

6

  

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective are Boycotts

Overall

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Very Effective

34

35

34

Somewhat Effective

35

33

35

Not Very Effective

11

11

11

Not At All Effective

13

14

12

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

7

7

 

 

 

Condition

 

How Effective is Each of the Following?

% Very Effective

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Voting

62

66

57

Peaceful Protest

40

41

38

Social Media Posts

35

35

35

Boycotts

34

35

34

Contacting Elected Officials

26

28

23

Online Petitions

19

21

17

Disruptive/Violent Protests

13

13

11

 

 

 

AA/Black

 

How Effective is Each of the Following?

% Very Effective

Before BLM Qs

After BLM Qs

Voting

61

66

57

Peaceful Protest

40

44

38

Social Media Posts

40

43

38

Boycotts

39

40

38

Contacting Elected Officials

27

29

24

Online Petitions

20

24

18

Disruptive/Violent Protests

12

15

10

 

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