New Poll Reveals Racial Divides in Tampa Bay

New Poll Reveals Racial Divides in Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Survey

A scientific poll released today by the Tampa Bay Partnership, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, United Way Suncoast and the USF Muma College of Business, reveals that Tampa Bay residents have a considerably more positive view of race relations within the region than they do in the U.S. as a whole. However, there are significant divides between the views and experiences of Black and white residents when it comes to specific issues of race, racism and racial equity, including the Black Lives Matter movement, sentiment toward the police and the upcoming presidential elections.


Key findings from the survey include:

Race Relations

Seventy-two percent of Tampa Bay residents perceive race relations in the region as “generally good,” compared to just 29% of residents who had the same response when asked about the state of race relations throughout the country. Residents also perceive race relations in Tampa Bay as remaining relatively stable (54%), while race relations in the U.S. are getting worse (59%).

Racial Insensitivity

Fifty-seven percent of white residents believe that it has become less acceptable for people to express racist or racially insensitive views in recent years. Despite this, 75% of Black residents believe that expressing these views has actually become more common.

Racial Equity

Tampa Bay residents are largely in agreement that Black people are treated less fairly than white people when dealing with the police (71%) or the criminal justice system (71%). But Black residents are more likely to view issues of race and racial discrimination as pervasive, systemic issues that are present in relatively all elements of society, while white residents are more likely to view these issues as being situationally dependent.

Racial Discrimination

Eighty percent of Black residents report having personally experienced racial discrimination, compared to just 20% of white residents. For Black residents, these experiences are most likely to include being treated with suspicion (70%), being perceived as unintelligent (68%), being treated unfairly in hiring or promotions (60%) and being subjected to racial slurs or jokes (60%).

Black Lives Matter

Sixty-seven percent of Tampa Bay residents support the Black Lives Matter movement. However, support is much stronger among Black residents (91%) and nearly one-third (31%) of white residents are strongly opposed. Additionally, 46% of white residents have become less likely to support the movement as a result of the recent protests, while 63% of Black residents have become more likely.


Sixty-two percent of Tampa Bay residents believe that the deaths of Black people in encounters with the police in recent years are signs of a broader problem, rather than isolated incidents. Only 7% of Black residents feel safer when they see a police officer, compared to 60% of white residents.

Public Policy

When it comes to policies to reduce racism and racial discrimination, there is minimal support among white residents for financial reparations (30%), redirecting funding from police (38%) or removing Confederate statues and symbols from public spaces (40%), but a majority of all residents support policies to create financing and procurement opportunities for black business owners (75%), increase racial integration in public schools (72%) and implement affirmative action policies to improve employment and educational opportunities for Black people (70%).

Presidential Politics

Fifty-one percent of Tampa Bay residents believe issues of racism are very important in the upcoming election and 53% believe Joe Biden is the candidate most likely to improve race relations in the U.S.

“The findings of this survey aren’t surprising, but they do validate the feelings and opinions of our residents in a quantifiable way,” said Partnership President and CEO Rick Homans. “We hope this data will foster important dialogue within our community, and inform the hard conversations about race that are needed to create a diverse, inclusive region.”

The Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Survey, conducted by Downs & St. Germain Research of Tallahassee, surveyed a demographically representative group of 450 adult residents in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties on October 2-5, 2020. The survey has a 95 percent confidence interval with a 5 percent margin of error.

The Partnership will present a detailed look at the Tampa Bay Racial Sentiment Survey during a virtual State of the Region Community Forum on Thursday, November 5 at 12 p.m. This event is free of charge and open to the public.

To register, visit: State of the Region Community Forum: Racial Sentiment in Tampa Bay


About the Tampa Bay Partnership

The Tampa Bay Partnership is a coalition of regional business leaders, joined by a shared commitment to improving the personal and economic well-being of Tampa Bay residents. Formally incorporated in 1994, and re-established in 2016 as a regional research and public policy organization, the Partnership works with the region’s top employers, and a diverse group of government and nonprofit partners, to identify and address the toughest challenges facing our community, and create new opportunities for the future.

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