Most Americans 'sympathise with protests'

Donald Trump's response to the US protests may not be in line with the majority of public feeling.
Donald Trump's response to the US protests may not be in line with the majority of public feeling.

A majority of Americans sympathise with nationwide protests over the death of an unarmed black man in police custody and disapprove of President Donald Trump's response to the unrest.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday found 64 per cent of American adults were "sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now," while 27 per cent said they were not and 9 per cent were unsure.

More than 55 per cent of Americans said they disapproved of Trump's handling of the protests, including 40 per cent who "strongly" disapproved, while just one-third said they approved - lower than his overall job approval of 39 per cent, the poll showed.

A separate Reuters/Ipsos poll found that Democrat Joe Biden's lead over Trump among registered voters expanded to 10 percentage points - the biggest margin since the former vice president became his party's presumptive nominee in early April.

Twice as many independent voters said they disapproved of Trump's response to the unrest. Even among Republicans, only 67 per cent said they approved of the way he had responded, significantly lower than the 82 per cent who liked his overall job performance.

Majorities of both Republicans and Democrats said they supported peaceful protests but believed property damage undermined the demonstrators' cause. Less than one quarter of Americans said violence was an appropriate response.

Even in rural and suburban areas largely unaffected by the demonstrations, most people expressed support. A little more than half of rural residents said they were sympathetic to the protesters, while seven out of 10 suburbanites agreed.

Americans are divided over the police response. According to the poll, 43 per cent believed the police were doing a good job and 47 per cent disagreed, with a majority of Democrats disagreeing and a majority of Republicans agreeing.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll on the protests was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States and gathered responses from 1,004 American adults.

Australian Associated Press