Blacks wildly overestimate frequency of police fatally shooting young black men: Survey

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White Trump voters most likely to correctly state that traffic deaths are higher

Public interest in the Derek Chauvin trial is likely influenced by the widespread belief that police killings of young black men are common.

But most Americans wildly overestimate how often this happens, and how wrong they are is closely connected to their political beliefs, according to a recent study.

Traffic accidents kill about 23 in 100,000 men ages 25-29, with a slightly higher rate for blacks relative to whites. This is at least five times higher than police killings of black men of the same age, using any method of force.

Eight in 10 black survey respondents said they believe young black men are more likely to die in police shootings than in traffic accidents. (The black rate of deaths by police is three times higher than for whites, however.)

Blacks who voted for President Donald Trump in 2020 were far less likely to wrongly believe that police shootings claim more young black lives than traffic accidents, though most of them (53%) still incorrectly guessed, showing this belief is “not simply a function of ideology.” Among those who voted for Joe Biden, 81% were wrong.

The demographic closest to getting the answer right was white Trump voters, only 15% of whom incorrectly believed police shootings killed more young black men. For white Biden voters, the figure was 53%, and about 10 points higher for highly educated liberal whites.

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