WASHINGTON — In the hours after a guilty verdict was announced in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a USA TODAY Ipsos poll found most Americans approved of the finding.
The poll, conducted in the 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, who is 45 and white, 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. Chauvin was seen on video pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee last Memorial Day for over nine minutes after police responded to a report that Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill.
A viral video of the incident sparked international protests for racial justice and police reform last summer.
Chauvin faces 12 1/2 years or 150 months in prison under sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender. But, the prosecution argues there are aggravating factors that require a longer prison term. That means Chauvin may face longer than that sentence.
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But the snap 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 part of the officer. Only 11% said they believed 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 has 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 little partisan skew in how Americans expect to respond to the verdict. A majority — 61% of both Democrats and Republicans, and 61% of independents — intend to do 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 verdict, only 5% of Republicans and 4% of those polled overall both reject the verdict and intend to protest in some way.
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News of the trial heavily penetrated Americans’ lives, according to the Ispos 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 trial 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.
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