WASHINGTON — In the hours after a guilty verdict was announced in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, an Ipsos poll conducted for USA TODAY found most Americans approved of the finding and said they don’t plan to do anything in response.
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The poll, conducted three hours after the verdict was announced, found 71% of Americans agreed Chauvin was guilty, and 62% said they intended to accept the verdict and do nothing. Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man whose neck Chauvin knelt on for over nine minutes. A viral video of the incident sparked international protests for racial justice and police reform last summer.
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But the poll also found differences in public views of Chauvin’s motivations. Of those surveyed, 40% said they believed Chauvin was guilty of murder, while 32% said the act was negligence on the officer’s part. Only 11% said they thought Chauvin’s actions were an accident.
The Ipsos poll was conducted from 5-8 p.m. on April 20 for USA TODAY. It surveyed 1,000 adults age 18-65 in every state online and in English and had a confidence interval of 3.2 percentage points.
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One question showed sharp partisan differences. While 51% of Democrats and 41% of independents agreed that Chauvin’s actions were murder, only 26% of Republicans felt the same way. Similarly, 85% of Democrats and 71% of independents said they believe Chauvin was correctly found guilty, while 55% of Republicans agreed.
Overall, however, there was slight partisan skew in how Americans expected to respond to the verdict. A majority — 61% of both Democrats and Republicans and 61% of independents — intend to accept the verdict and do nothing.
One in four Democrats plans to accept the verdict and join marches, rallies, and protests after the decision, compared to 15% of Republicans. While one in five Republicans rejects the ruling, only 5% of Republicans and 4% of those polled overall reject the verdict and intend to protest somehow.
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News of the trial heavily penetrated Americans’ lives, according to the Ipsos poll. As many as 40% of Americans have consumed “a lot” of media about the Chauvin trial, 27% of respondents said they’d watched “some” content related to the problem and 21% said they’d seen “a little.” Only 9% of respondents said they’d seen nothing about the trial at all.
Follow Matthew Brown online @mrbrownsir.