Exclusive: Americans overwhelmingly approve of Chauvin guilty verdict, USA TODAY/Ipsos snap poll finds

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.

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.

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.

People react after the verdict was read in the Derek Chauvin trial on April 20, 2021 In Minneapolis. (Photo: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

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.

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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