October 29, 2021 - 3:20pm

For the first time since 2018, more Americans now oppose the Black Lives Matter movement than support it.

Researchers Civiqs have been tracking public opinion on the activist group every week since 2017, interviewing a total of 278,076 adults across the country. For most of that period BLM has enjoyed majority support. It reached peak popularity (53% support, 28% against) immediately after the killing of George Floyd in June 2020, but has been drifting downwards ever since. Crossover was reached this week, with 44% of the American public opposed to BLM, and 43% in favour.

The divisions in the data, perhaps predictably, are strongest among race and partisan lines. 85% of Democrats support the movement; 87% of Republicans oppose it — but independents now tend to be opposed as well, with 49% against and only 34% in favour. White people are the only racial group likely to oppose the movement (53% to 34%) whereas 82% of the Black and African American group remains in favour.

Perhaps the most revealing detail in the study was the division along class lines. Support for BLM is highest among the highly educated elite, with postgraduates tilting strongly in favour, and non-college graduates tilting against.

This reinforces a common critique of antiracist activists that they are often privileged and out of touch; it will no doubt also add to concerns that highly theoretical concepts like ‘critical race theory’ and ‘equity’ are predominant on university campuses.

The researchers did not specify whether the question referred to BLM the broad philosophy, the organisation, or the protests, but it represents a significant shift in a short period of time. Alongside the dramatic drop in public support for President Biden since his election, observers will be keen to see if it represents a broader shift in political attitudes ahead of the midterms next year.