Brands

Most Voters Want Companies to Publicly Denounce White Supremacy in Wake of Buffalo Mass Shooting

Younger respondents were more supportive of potential actions companies could take, according to new survey

Voter opinions following buffalo mass shooting
People gather outside of Tops market in Buffalo, New York where a gunman killed ten people in an apparent hate crime. A slim majority of U.S. voters said they want companies to publicly condemn white supremacy following the heinous act. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Following Saturday’s mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where police say a white gunman killed 10 Black people, about 3 in 5 registered voters said companies should release statements that denounce the attack and donate money to the victims’ families, according to new Morning Consult data. The same share said companies should donate money to the families of the victims, while a narrow majority said companies should denounce white supremacy. 

But voters’ appetite for corporate donations to gun-control advocacy groups in response to the shooting was more tepid.

3 in 5 Voters Want Companies to Release Statements Condemning Buffalo Shooting

Respondents were asked if companies should take the following actions in response to the Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting:

Survey conducted May 16, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,702 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
What the numbers say
  • Of the options given, registered voters showed the most support for corporate statements that condemn the mass shooting (61%), and monetary donations to the families of the victims (58%).
  • More than half of voters also said companies should make statements that reject racism (57%) and white supremacy (52%), or donate to community organizations based in Buffalo (51%).
  • Donating to groups that advocate for gun control, however, was a less popular option, with 44% of voters saying companies should do so — a reflection of the comparative uneasiness voters feel about corporate positions on gun policy, a hot-button political topic.

More on the numbers
  • Compared to Democratic respondents, Republicans were much less supportive of the potential actions provided in the survey overall. GOP respondents’ most popular action (“make a statement that condemns the shooting”) was still 27 percentage points below Democrats’ support. 
  • Republican voters (34%) were also less than half as likely as Democrats (72%) to say companies should condemn white supremacy. 
  • Gen Z voters and millennial voters were more supportive of the possible actions across the board, compared to Gen Xers and baby boomers. At least 3 in 5 members of the two younger generations said companies should make statements that condemn the shooting or racism, or donate money to the victims’ families.
  • While more than half of Gen Xers and baby boomers said companies should make statements that denounce the shooting or racism, there was less support for donating money to either gun-control organizations or community groups in Buffalo.
The impact

The corporate world feels increasing pressure to react to breaking news events and political issues that affect their customers. The new Morning Consult data reveals that most Americans want brands to acknowledge the tragic event in Buffalo, but are less comfortable with companies’ putting their money behind organizations that advocate for gun control.

In recent years, corporate America has urged elected officials to enact stronger restrictions on gun access, including in 2019, when 145 chief executives signed a letter of support for expanded background checks for firearm sales. There have been some consequences for companies that directly address gun control issues, such as declined sales and calls for boycotts at Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. after it tightened up policies related to gun sales. 

Though numerous brands have been quick to make their stances clear on recent issues like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the consumer industry has been relatively quiet in the immediate aftermath of the Buffalo mass shooting, which is being investigated as a hate crime.  

That hasn’t stopped related criticism against social media companies, particularly for the proliferation of the live video of the attack that the alleged Buffalo shooter streamed on Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch platform. Actress Selena Gomez also called out the companies for not doing a better job of limiting the spread of hate speech online.

The survey was conducted May 16, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,702 registered voters, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

Morning Consult