Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Who Really Likes the Police? Older, Richer, White, Conservative Republicans.


Americans like the police, but older, more affluent, white, conservative Republicans really like the police. Fully 72 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the police, and 24 percent have an unfavorable view, according to the latest Reason-Rupe poll. However, favorability has declined 6 points since the question was asked in April earlier this year. It's possible greater public awareness of police militarization in the aftermath of the Ferguson, MO protests has undermined public confidence.

While majorities of Americans have a favorable opinion of the police, intensity of support varies widely across groups. Most striking are differences across race/ethnicity.

Fully 80 percent of white Americans have a positive view of the police, with 43 percent who are veryfavorable. However only 52 percent of black and Hispanic Americans share this favorable view, and only 2 in 10 have a strongly favorable opinion of the police. Forty-three percent of African-Americans and 46 percent of Latinos have an unfavorable view of the police, compared to 17 percent of Caucasians.

Democrats (66%) and independents (60%) are also considerably less favorable of the police compared to Republicans (85%). However, different racial compositions within the political parties explain part of the difference. Only 55 percent of nonwhite Democrats like the police, compared to 75 percent of white Democrats, and 86 percent of white Republicans.

While liberals tend to be more distrustful of the police than conservatives—fiscal conservatives are themselves divided. Using the Reason-Rupe typology, social conservatives (51%) are more likely than libertarians (41%) to have a strongly favorable view. Only 30 percent of liberals and 35 percent of communitarians share conservatives' strongly favorable attitudes toward the police.

Older and wealthier Americans are also more likely to like the police. For instance, 83 percent of seniors are very favorable toward the police, and fully 50 percent are very favorable. In contrast, 60 percent of 18-29 years are favorable, and 30 percent are very favorable. Similarly by income, 83 percent of households making more than $90,000 a year have a favorable view, including 47 percent with a strongly favorable opinion. However, considerably fewer (65%) among those making less than $45,000 annually share a favorable view of the police, including only 30 percent with a strongly favorable view.

A standard statistical procedure to simultaneously account for basic demographic characteristics finds that being Caucasian, higher income, and from the South are the strongest statistically significant predictors of support for the police, followed by being a Republican, and a woman.

As to be expected, those who have a favorable view of police officers are most likely to think officers are generally held accountable for misconduct (61%), only use lethal force when necessary (59%), and believe the criminal justice system is fair to all races (51%). Conversely, those with a negative view of the police are far less likely to believe police officers are held accountable (22%), use lethal force only when necessary (22%), and say the justice system lacks racial bias (26%).

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1004 adults on cell phones (503) and landlines (501) October 1-6, 2014. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results can be found here including poll toplines (pdf) and crosstabs (xls). 

NEXT: NYPD Probing Possible Terror Link in Hatchet Attack on Cops

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  1. Shock poll.

  2. As to be expected, those who have a favorable view of police officers are most likely to think officers are generally held accountable for misconduct (61%), only use lethal force when necessary (59%), and believe the criminal justice system is fair to all races (51%).

    IOW, those who have a favorable view of police offers are most likely to live in a fantasy world.

    1. Just count me as a resident of that fantasy world; police abuses are grossly exaggerated and over-reported, to the detriment of the overwhelming majority of LEOs who do their jobs and do them well. My son is part of that fantasy world; he’s a federal LEO and is out there every day protecting your ass.

      1. Like the article says,

        Fully 72 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the police[.]

        Isn’t that fucking good enough for you?

      2. My son is part of that fantasy world; he’s a federal LEO and is out there every day protecting your ass.

        What could you federal asshole of a son possibly be protecting us from? Whatever police powers the federal government has usurped are routinely abused. In a court system where +90% of cases people plead guilty to avoid the iron hand of the federal government, I’d hardly call that protection.

      3. he’s a federal LEO and is out there every day protecting your ass

        From the scourge of … what, exactly?

        Also, does he collect a paycheck? Well, then I think he’s getting all of my gratitude (and then some) that he deserves. If he doesn’t feel it’s sufficient, he can turn in his badge and find a better use for his talents.

      4. You know what’s even more exaggerated and over reported? Police injury and death in the line of duty.

        What, pray tell, is he protecting us (or is just our asses) from?

      5. You’re not just a resident of a fantasy world, you’re also a raging asshole, idiot, conformist, and probably a sociopath. Police abuses are almost never reported, unless they are a part of the statistic that truthfully reports that you are more likely to be killed by a cop than a terrorist.

        …And that’s not even scratching the surface about how they keep the poor people poor, and protect only the rich and the white.

        Your son is a for-hire parasite who bullies people under the threat of murdering them, for a paycheck. In that regard, he is just like the Nazis my grandfather shot in WWII. If there is any justice in the world, your son will die in a car fire, with you driving.

      6. Federal LEOs don’t protect anyone or anything except their own corrupt paychecks. The one exception might be John Douglas or someone with the ISU, but even there, they still comply with laws that victimize innocent people as a common matter of course. …Or do you think they don’t call the DEA when they encounter drugs? Do you think they don’t pressure people to inform on their families and friends? If you don’t, then you really are delusional.

        The USA has the highest prison population in the world, mostly for escalated VICTIMLESS driving offenses, and VICTIMLESS drug and gun “offenses.” (Of course, the common law –if we were following it anymore– indicates that none of these things are crimes, since they lack injury and intent, and therefore lack the “corpus” referred to in the 4th Amendment, and by implication, the 6th Amendment. Luckily for the government, it’s created generations of idiots like yourself who cannot comprehend what they read, and are willing to “just follow ordersssss.”)…..merica-711

        Pull your head out of your ass.

    2. Actually, those that don’t have a favorable view of the police tend to be liberals (who are mostly corrupt) and many libertarians (who tend to be drug abusers). Next time you need the police, call your pusher instead.

      1. Pull the state’s cock out of your mouth long enough to string together a coherent argument so that it may be properly addressed with the scorn it deserves.

      2. Bootlicking cliche detected.

        Next time I want my neighbor hurt or their dog killed, I’ll call the police.

  3. That libertarian number is way off. Either that or the people who post here aren’t really libertarians.

      1. cosmotarian! *points finger*

        1. I’m not one of those either.

          I’m a social and fiscal conservative.

          1. Yokeltarian! *points finger*

          2. Libertarians are often social and fiscal conservatives. What makes that person non-libertarian is their willingness to impose their social conservatism through force of law.

            1. Yeah, since libertarians refuse to recognize any law.

              1. Well that’s absurd. But thanks for displaying how little you understand the concept.

                1. His little Johnny is a Federal LEO, probably some very important agency, like the ATF, or OSHA, or some other shit. Johnny told him all about the ebil libertarians who don’t want the boot of Federal LEO on their necks, simply a disgraceful proposition to Johnny !!!11

    1. Next time a cop or cop defender whines about people who criticize cops, I’m going to keep this poll in mind. 72% approval rating should be enough for anyone, unless you’re a giant attention whore. Bill Clinton was satisfied with a lower approval rating.

      1. The average cop on the street is still a better person than Bill Clinton. Or most politicians for that matter.

      2. Bill Clinton was satisfied by a fat chick with an oral fixation.

    2. I’m a real libertarians, which means absolutely nothing to do with the Kochs, Cato, Reason Foundation, etc.

      Now, as to this “poll” which states that the Right (conservatives) are more authoritarian, wow – it’s what I’ve been trying to tell ya!

      Any real libertarian worth his or her salt would realize who is really on their side (the ACLU, etc.) and who is not (the GOP).

      1. I’m a real libertarians…..2874a6.jpg

    3. Tuh Dah!

  4. Well, Every Breath You Take and Don’t Stand So Close To Me seem to fit right in here.

  5. White seems to be a derogatory term.

    1. Along with rich. Ass-backward world we live in, isn’t it?

  6. You left criminals off the poll. I’m willing to bet they have the lowest favorable rating towards the police.

    1. So you’re saying that 25% of the people polled were criminals?

      1. At a rate of three felonies per day, we’re all criminals.

  7. 75% of Libertarians have a favorable opinion of cops? Where did these poll numbers come from? I don’t even know one libertarian who has a favorable opinion of cops. I’m almost sure that all 21 of us in the country don’t like cops.

    1. I know one guy (who does seem to be a libertarian) who thinks that a few bad apples spoil the bunch.

      I think I can change him.

  8. A question I would ask is if the person being polled has been the victim of a crime. I think people who have would have a less favorable opinion of the police, being that they don’t do jack shit to investigate crimes with victims. They’re too busy going after victimless crimes that gives then an opportunity to rob people.

    1. Exactly. Older more wealthy white people are the least likely to have actual contact with the police. It there is no surprise they have the highest opinion of the police.

      It is like the old joke about a conservative being a liberal who has been mugged. A cop hater today is nothing but a cop lover who finally met a police officer.

      1. A cop lover is someone who has never interacted with the police other than the occasional traffic ticket.

        1. Yup. And if you are older and look like a respectable person, cops generally will leave you alone. The only time I have ever been hassled by a cop as an adult was on my motorcycle. In my car, I almost never get pulled over and usually get out of the ticket when I do.

          If I were poor or black or younger or some combination of that, my experience would be totally different. That is what drives me crazy about the race hustlers claiming how hard it is for young black men and how they are always hassled by the cops. That is true to some degree but it is not about race it is about class. Go ask poor, young, white kids about how they get treated by the cops sometime.

          1. Go ask poor, young, white kids about how they get treated by the cops sometime.

            I was a poor, young, white kid once, and that was when the police taught me to view them with contempt.

            1. Probably because of your crappy attitude and drugged out behavior.

              1. Look. It’s not my fault your dad gets more pussy than you.

        2. True, when those old rich people think about the police, they’re probably thinking about Andy Taylor and Barney Fife.

          1. They’re probably thinking of the PRIVATE security company their homeowners association hired. No wonder they have a higher opinion of them. They also have a high opinion on the PRIVATE school they send their kids to.

      2. Older wealthy people are also the least likely to commit physical crimes.

        If you’re having a lot of contact with police, either (a) you live in a bad neighborhood and are getting swept up in hamhanded law enforcement, or (b) you are committing crimes or appearing to commit crimes, a lot. I really don’t give a shit if people in category (b) have a low opinion of police, and there are a lot of them.

        1. Being poor is often sufficient to be lumped into (b). Especially since being poor means you can’t defend yourself in court, which makes you an easy target for asshole cops.

          1. Agreed. It is becoming obvious that it is not race, but class that dictates how law enforcement treats you. For every Dominick in the ghettos being hassled, their is a Randy in a trailer park somewere that gets the same treatment.

  9. My dad isn’t exactly what you would call an ancap, or even an orthodox libertarian, but I think I was about 8 years old when he first took the time to explain to me that I never had to talk to a cop, and gave me a pocket Miranda rights card. Probably the best thing he’s ever done for me.

    1. So, even if you’re a witness to a crime, you don’t feel obligated to talk to a LEO? All you’re worrying about are YOUR rights, rather than the rights of the victim?

      1. All you’re worrying about are YOUR rights

        Absolutely 100% correct, yes.

        1. PM, you are a disgrace. No wonder the Libertarian party Gets no respect from the general population.

          1. It’s just as well, I’m not really interested in earning the respect of cop-fellating abject retards.

      2. I have discovered that anyone who uses the term LEO to describe police officers may as well have cop balls bouncing off their chin.

        1. It’s a generic term that covers those with arresting powers who aren’t titularly police officers (sheriff’s deputies, game wardens, federal marshals, etc). So those who use the term are actually just trying to be correct in their language.

          1. I understand that, and I stand by my statement. In my experience, people who use the term LEO tend to reflexively defend most anything an officer does.

          2. The only use for the term “LEO” is in determining who can join the special club created by LEOPA.

      3. Depends on the crime and the circumstances. If I witness a crime where there is a real victim, say someone being assaulted or my neighbor’s house being robbed, absolutely I will talk to an LEO. If I see some victimless crime like drugs or see the cops just harassing someone, I am not getting involved. Not my circus not my monkeys. The cops can go fuck themselves.

        1. If I witness a crime where there is a real victim, say someone being assaulted or my neighbor’s house being robbed, absolutely I will talk to an LEO.

          The question is if they would talk to you. They may not give a shit about what you have to say. I’ve witnessed crimes and tried to talk to the police, but they weren’t interested. They only care about drug offenses, since it gives them an opportunity to rob someone. There is no profit to be made investigating crimes with actual victims, so the cops largely ignore them. They most they’ll do is fill out a report, and then never look at it again.

          1. True. Allow me to live in a fantasy world where the cops investigate and prosecute crimes rather than just write tickets and harass people.

          2. It’s like the time my door got kicked in and I was robbed. I called the cops to fill out a police report and afterwards the woman told me they were too busy to investigate a B&E and that I should do my own investigation. I’m sure right after she left my apartment she resumed her place on the anti-marijuana task force to do the really important police work of needlessly ruining lives.

        2. The important point is that you don’t have to talk to the cops. Period. If you choose to do so for whatever reasons you choose to do so, fine and dandy. I’m glad my dad took the time to explain that to me from a young age. Several years later when the Michael Crowe interrogation debacle hit the prime time news he was quick to point out to me that that’s precisely the reason he told me that.

          1. No you do not. And you should always tred very carefully when you do.

      4. What are the rights of the victim, and how do they supersede another person’s right to remain silent?

      5. All you’re worrying about are YOUR rights, rather than the rights of the victim?

        I’m sorry, where was the part where I violated the victim’s rights?

        The idea that you can compel my testimony is quite disconcerting and a complete debasement of the freedom of conscience.

      6. What happens when being witness turns into being a suspect?

    2. My dad is an old time conservative Republican. And he is old enough to have been on the law and order side in the 60s and 70s. He fucking hates cops as much as I do.

      I always tell idiots like Dunphy, when you have lost people like my Dad (and your dad), you are losing America.

    3. George Zimmerman slept in his own bed the night of Trayvon Martin’s death because he talked to the cops.

      A far cry from what would have happened if he’d refused to talk, and just stood silently over the person he’d killed with no explanation.

      1. Well yeah. If you have a dead body in your yard, you probably want to explain it.

        That said, all not talking that night would have done would have gotten him arrested. It wouldn’t have convicted him or been used against him at trial. There are a whole lot of people sitting in prison right now because they thought it was a good idea to try and explain things to the cops rather than talking to their lawyer first. Had the situation been a bit different, it might not have worked out so well for Zimmerman.

        If you are under suspicion of a crime, you are almost always better off not saying anything until you talk to a lawyer.

      2. “You don’t have to talk to the cops” is not the same thing as “You should never talk to the cops.”

      3. Yeah, and then he still ended up being the victim of an attempted federally-encouraged lynching. That being said, the local cops didn’t seem to be the problem in the case.

        Every concealed carry instructor and criminal defense lawyer around here that I know of (some of which are cops themselves or former cops) heavily advises not saying anything to the police except that it was self-defense and that you want to talk to a lawyer if you have to use your weapon.

  10. Can we repeat this poll and ask about favorable views of polic UNIONS?

  11. Why doesn’t the headline point out that WOMEN are more likely than men to love cops? Because patriarchy?

    1. That’s OK. I hate cops enough to make up for it.

  12. ” Fully 72 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the police, and 24 percent have an unfavorable view, …”

    In other words, 24% of Americans have had recent interactions with police.

  13. In the US, “the police” is not a monolithic bloc, it covers a crazy quilt of separate organizations and overlapping jurisdictions. You might think your city’s police force is a bunch of thugs and the appointed police chief an authoritarian, while maintaining respect for your county’s elected sheriff and his or her deputies, and having no opinion on your state police. Throw in game wardens, federal marshals, etc, and the picture gets even more complicated.

    And that’s still not taking into account that different cops in the same org are going to have different levels of goodness.

    1. What you’re not taking into account are the universal incentives of those who receive ‘qualified immunity’ for their actions while costumed and a mandadate to vigorously pursue victimless crimes. The assholeness of cops is systemic and effectively universal.

      1. “The assholeness of cops is systemic and effectively universal.”

        The prevailing anti-snitch attitude within law enforcement proves that statement beyond a shadow of a doubt.

        1. The prevalence of bad cops is proof that there are no good cops.

          1. You know what the typical response to this is, in my experience?

            Silence, a shrug, and “But we still need police.”

  14. Since when is 91K considered rich?

    1. That certainly seems rich to me. But I’m from a rural area in the Midwest.

      1. I’m also from a rural area in the Midwest: West Central Ohio. For an average family of four with two cars and a normal 175K mortgage and a plethora of taxes and healthcare insurance 91K a year is not ‘rich’.

        1. 91K for an individual is rich though.

    2. Since when is 91K considered rich?

      Since I looked at my last paycheck.

    3. “Since when is 91K considered rich?”

      Being as the average total net worth of those most bullied by the Cops (blacks, hispanics, etc.) is less than 10K, I guess the 91K looks like heaven on earth.

  15. I’ve had generally good experiences with cops. Been pulled over at least a handful of times but never received a ticket. I don’t know if being female has something to do with it, although I’m not the flirtatious type.

    On the other hand, I’m well aware of the prevalence of corruption in law enforcement. I’m also not one of those naive idiots who believes that the police are there to protect you. I’ve actually heard people, Republicans no less, who say that it’s not necessary to have a gun because the police will protect you. So ignorant it’s sad.

  16. Fully 72 percent of Americans say they have a favorable view of the police, and 24 percent have an unfavorable view

    Libertopia, the next corner, it is around.

    1. The Libertarian moment must have been measurable only in microseconds.

  17. I think the police have been overstepping their bounds and become more militarized with the end of the Vietnam war. The soldiers came home and got jobs as police officers. SWAT teams proliferated. The setting was right for the war on drugs. It was business as usual and then thanks to terror attacks (9/11 and OK city) the push toward militarization and adversarial relationship with the citizens really accelerated. The information age didn’t slow down the police, but its suddenly catching up to now that many events are finally getting the attention of the public.
    Police aren’t there to protect us, they are preying on us and simply taking notes to justify themselves after the fact. Americans are shackled by the privilege of drivers licenses and modern transportation. Most contact with police comes as a result of DL. We are in deep trouble until we get the police retrained. It will take 30 years minimum.

  18. I don’t believe these numbers I think most people are afraid to say what they really think of cops and the military!
    Most people dislike cops and military and the reality is they have the same mentality whih is they can do whatever they want and want worshiped!
    People realize they are the worst our society has!

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