Quinnipiac University has released dramatic new poll results on affirmative action. From the summary:
American voters say 55 – 36 percent that affirmative action should be abolished, and disagree 71 – 19 percent with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s ruling in the New Haven firefighters’ case, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
More than 70 percent of voters say diversity is not a good enough reason to give minorities preferential treatment in competition for government or private sector jobs, the independent Quinnipiac University survey of more than 3,000 voters finds.
Looking at specifics of affirmative action, American voters:
- Oppose 70 – 25 percent giving some racial groups preference for government jobs to increase diversity. Black voters support it 49 – 45 percent while Hispanic voters are opposed 58 – 38 percent;
- Oppose 74 – 21 percent giving some racial groups preference for private sector jobs to increase diversity. Voters in every racial and religious group oppose this;
- Oppose 64 – 29 percent affirmative action for Hispanics in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support it 59 – 30 percent while Hispanics split 47 – 48 percent;
- Oppose 61 – 33 percent affirmative action for blacks in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support this 69 – 26 percent, as do Hispanics 51 – 46 percent;
- Oppose 62 – 32 percent affirmative action for white women in hiring, promotion and college entry. Women oppose this 58 – 35 percent but blacks support it 55 – 37 percent.
“Terminology is often important in the battle over such programs,” notes Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “By a 51 – 36 percent margin voters say ‘preferences’ is the better way to describe them than ‘affirmative action,’ even though the news media mostly use the term ‘affirmative action.’”
The almost always reliable (though not always right) Peter Schmidt of the Chronicle of Higher Education has a post on the Chronicle’s News Blog today that, uncharacteristically, appears to attempt to soften the impact of these findings. The post’s headline, for example, states, “Poll Finds Most Americans Oppose Affirmative Action When Defined as ‘Preferences.’” [UPDATE: Schmidt also says poll findings “can be skewed by the wording of questions and the order in which questions are asked.”] True, but according to this poll they also oppose affirmative action when it is described as affirmative action. Here, for example, is Question 14 and the responses:
Which comes closer to your point of view regarding affirmative action programs in the work place — A) We should have affirmative action programs to overcome past discrimination, B) We should have affirmative action programs to increase diversity or C) We should not have affirmative action programs?
A) Should have for past discrimination: 20%
B) Should have to increase diversity: 27%
C) Should not have: 47%
All the results are much worth reading, especially the breakdown by partisan affiliation.
This poll, in short, shows the breadth and depth of public opposition to race preferences, however described. The only significant exceptions are black support for preferences for themselves and others (including white women, by 55% – 37%, which even women oppose, 58% – 35%) and Democrats, who support most preference programs — but even Democrats oppose preferences to produce proportional representation of racial and ethnic groups in the workforce (by 63% – 32% in private industry and 56% – 39% in the government workforce).