New Gallup Poll on Affirmative Action, Etc.

by Roger Clegg

There’s a very interesting new Gallup poll (discussed in some detail here). One part, like two other recent polls, finds that Americans, by a large margin, don’t like racial preferences in university admissions. 

Nationally, 67 percent disapprove of the practice, while 28 percent approve (disapproval runs 75–22 among whites and 59–31 among Hispanics, with African Americans supporting them by a narrow 48–44 majority). 

Another part finds that, nonetheless, Americans support “affirmative action” by 58–37 percent (51–44 among whites, 76–20 among blacks, and 69–25 among Hispanics). But, as the discussion acknowledges, the apparent inconsistency here can be explained by the fact that “affirmative action” is a vague term, and the question about taking race into account in university admissions was more precise in spelling out the consequences of the practice. Note also that the affirmative-action question was asked first; I bet that, if the order had been reversed, the percentage of people supporting affirmative action would have dropped dramatically (and the percentage opposing racial preferences in university admissions would have been even higher). The third part of the survey is interesting, too, and looks at the even broader question of what role the government should play ”in trying to improve the social and economic position of blacks and other minority groups” in the U.S.