The Corner

Tired of Affirmative Action

A new Quinnipiac poll on affirmative action indicates that most Americans are prepared to discontinue racial and ethnic preferences in employment, contracting, and college admissions far sooner than Justice O’Connor was prepared to do in Grutter.

 

The poll shows that voters oppose giving preferences for private sector jobs to certain racial groups by a margin of 74% to 21%. Voters opposed racial preferences for government jobs by a margin of 70% to 25%.

 

Perhaps the most intriguing question posed by the poll was whether the election of Barack Obama made the respondent more likely or less likely to support continuation of “affirmative action programs.” For 80% of respondents, the election of Barack Obama didn’t change their views on affirmative action. Among those for whom the election did have an effect, the breakdown was as follows:

Blacks were 6 times more likely to support affirmative action than oppose it.

 

Hispanics were slightly less than 6 times more likely to support affirmative action than oppose it.

 

Whites were 3 times more likely to oppose affirmative action than support it.

 

Women were nearly evenly split.

 

Men were nearly 2 times more likely to oppose affirmative action than support it.

 

Republicans were nearly 6 times more likely to oppose affirmative action than support it.

 

Independents were 2 times more likely to oppose affirmative action than support it.

 

Democrats were 2 1/2  times more likely to support affirmative action than oppose it.

Note that the question used the term “affirmative action” as opposed to “racial/ethnic preferences.” Polling data over the years shows that the former term consistently produces more favorable responses than the latter. The latter term, however, more clearly defines the practice as it pertains to public contracting and college admissions. It would be interesting to see what results the question would yield if “racial preferences” were substituted for “affirmative action.”

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