The headline of the news release from the Pew Research Center was a master class in trying to make the headline fit the prevailing narrative: “Recent protest attendees are more racially and ethnically diverse, younger than Americans overall.”
“Large-scale protests and rallies for racial equality have captured public attention and amplified calls for policy reforms in recent weeks,” the Wednesday article began.
“Some 6% of U.S. adults say they have attended a protest or rally that focused on issues related to race or racial equality in the last month, and those who have are more likely to be nonwhite and younger than Americans overall, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. They are also more likely to live in an urban area and to identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party.”
Let’s say you stopped reading there. What would be your takeaways on the reading comprehension tests? a) Lots of people attended these protests. b) Those people skewed nonwhite. c) They tended to be urban and Democratic in nature.
You’d only get a high-D, however — 67 percent right.
As for what you got correct: a) Yes, 6 percent is a high number. c) The crowds were urban and tended to vote for Democrats.
As for b) — well, let’s talk about that.
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The Pew Research Center’s survey of protest-goers is heavily dependent on what you’re willing to consider “more likely to be nonwhite and younger than Americans overall.”
Younger? Yes, definitely. “About four-in-ten (41%) of those who say they recently attended a protest focused on race are younger than 30; among all U.S. adults, 19% are in this age group,” Pew said.
“In turn, those ages 50 and older are underrepresented among the protesters, while those ages 30 to 49 represent a similar share of those who have attended a protest as they do of the adult population overall.”
The problem comes out when you look at how many people who attended protests that were supposed to be about black people achieving racial justice were actually black.
“Black Americans account for 17% of those who say they attended a protest focused on race or racial equality in the last month, compared with their 11% share of all adults in the survey,” the news release said.
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“Hispanic Americans account for 22% of recent protest attendees, versus 15% of all adults. The difference is less pronounced but still statistically significant when it comes to the share of protesters who are Asian (8% vs. 5% of the adults surveyed). While 64% of U.S. adults are white, just 46% of those who said they attended a protest focused on race in the last month are white.”
The results came from a web survey managed by Ipsos of 9,654 respondents between June 4 and June 10. The margin of error was 1.6 percentage points. So, the difference between the share of adult black respondents and the percentage of black individuals in attendance at the protests in which the Black Lives Matter movement played a large part and which were perceived to be about black Americans standing up for their rights was just 6 percentage points.
The vast majority of people who were protesting for racial equality, in other words, weren’t black.
This wasn’t at all like the skew of Democrats-to-Republicans.
“When it comes to political party affiliation, about eight-in-ten (79%) of those who say they participated in a protest or rally focused on race or racial equality in the last month identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, while just 17% say they are Republican or Republican-leaning,” the news release said.
Meanwhile, 51 percent of all adult respondents in the survey said they were Democrats or leaned Democrat, compared to the 44 percent who were Republican or leaned Republican.” And yet, both Democrats and Republicans expressed outrage at the death of George Floyd.
I suppose part of the difference could be explained by the fact that the average Republican probably isn’t going to show up to a protest with a “Trump Supporters 4 Justice” sign, but the reality is that this is about something significantly different than requesting justice for Floyd.
This is nothing short of Democrats and the media using black pain as a prop for themselves.
While many black Americans may be frustrated with their treatment by law enforcement, that’s largely not who was protesting. The demonstrators, according to this survey, were within 5 percentage points of being majority white. But that’s not what the narrative was — and that’s likely not what the narrative will remain.
Facts and narrative, however, are two very separate things, no matter how hard the Pew Research Center wants to make them fit.
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