The March for Racial Justice Joins #TheResistance

On September 30th my colleagues and I fielded a research team to survey a random sample of participants at the March for Racial Justice in Washington, DC. Like at other protest events, teams of 2 surveyed participants throughout the rally area (full details of sampling and methodology available upon request). In total, 187 people completed the survey (representing an 83 response rate).

Analysis from data collected at the March for Racial Justice (M4RJ) indicates that the Resistance is still growing.  People who are getting engaged are staying engaged: most participants (76%) reported also participating in the Women’s March; a third (34%) reported participating in the March for Science; a quarter (25%) reported participating in the People’s Climate March; and a fifth (21%) reported participating in the Equality March.  As a result, the March mobilized a relatively low percentage of first-time protesters (18%) and only 2% of participants said that they had not participated in a protest in the past 5 years.

In addition to attending marches, respondents were very civically engaged.  More than half (52%) reported attending a town hall meeting in the past year (since September 2016), which is one of the major tactics employed by the Resistance.  Beyond repeat attendance at protest-events, town hall meeting attendance rates have gone up at each march and this number was the highest to date.

Like at previous marches, most respondents said that the outcome of the 2016 election was important to their decision to participate (97%).  However, this march had a lower level of Clinton voters than previous marches (79%).  This finding suggests that more people who supported a third party candidate or did not vote in the 2016 election are getting involved in the Resistance.  No respondents reported voting for Trump.

So far, the Resistance is mobilizing highly educated Americans who lean to the left:  70% reported completing a Bachelor’s Degree or higher.  This march turned out a higher proportion of Black participants (18%) than the national average.  Given that the focus of the M4RJ was on Racial Justice, this finding makes a lot of sense.

This march was smaller than expected—about 10,000 turned out.  In contrast to the large-scale marches since the Inauguration, the M4RJ was endorsed by only a few of the major national organizations that have been involved in events since the inauguration (such as ACLU and NAACP and the unions).  Had the large national groups joined in, I expect turnout would have been much larger and the march could have attracted some of famous people involved in #TakeAKnee.  It is possible that protest fatigue is setting in for some national groups that have been involved in a number of events since January.