Athletes kneeling during the National Anthem? Majority of NY voters say First Amendment trumps disrespect

Photo by Keith Allison
Washington Redskins teammates during the National Anthem before a game against the Oakland Raiders at FedExField on September 24, 2017 in Landover, Maryland.

Sixty percent of New York voters support the First Amendment rights of athletes to kneel during the national anthem, compared to 38 percent who say it’s disrespectful and athletes should protest on their own time, according to a Siena Poll released this week.

There is a sharp divide on this issue depending on one’s political ideology and party affiliation in New York state, the poll shows.

Seventy-six percent of Democrats agreed with the statement posed to them by pollsters: “The First Amendment protects the rights of all Americans. I support the right of those athletes to kneel during the national anthem.”

On the other hand, 71 percent of Republicans agreed with the statement: “It is disrespectful of athletes to kneel during the anthem, they should protest on their own time not while they are in uniform.”

Fifty-one percent of upstaters and 57 percent of Catholics also called the protests disrespectful.

“Republicans and conservatives overwhelmingly say that athletes kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful and protests like that should not happen while they are in uniform, as do a strong majority of Catholics. Upstate voters are closely divided,” Greenberg said.

There was wider support for athletes’ right to protest, especially among black voters — 88 percent of that group said they support the rights of athletes to kneel during the National Anthem.

“A majority of others – Democrats and independents, men and women, liberals and moderates, downstaters, blacks, whites and Latinos, young, middle-aged and older voters, Jews and Protestants – say the First Amendment trumps disrespect, and that they support the rights of athletes to kneel during the anthem,” Greenberg said. “Older and white voters are the only of those groups where support is less than ten percentage points.”

The poll of 789 registered New York state voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

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