Rasmussen Affirmative Action Poll

In a new poll Rasmussen finds that only 24% of respondents support “affirmative action” in college admissions, and 55% oppose it.

However, since “affirmative action” comprises a multitude of sins, as well as some commendable race-neutral policies such as vigorous outreach and — its original legal meaning — taking affirmative steps to ensure that all applicants are treated “without regard” to race — I am sure opposition to “affirmative action” as it is actually practiced is much higher.

I don’t have a premium subscription (or any kind of subscription) to Rasmussen and so do not have access to the crosstabs or underlying data, but here are the questions he asked:

1* Do you favor or oppose Affirmative Action programs?

2* Do you favor or oppose applying affirmative action policies to college admissions?

3* What is better for higher education in the United States…colleges and universities accepting only the most qualified students for admission or colleges and universities making sure there is enough racial diversity in the students they accept?

4* Do Affirmative Action programs discriminate against white men?

5* Have affirmative action programs been a success, a failure, or somewhere in-between?

NOTE: Margin of Sampling Error, +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence

I’m confident Rasmussen would have found less than 24% support and more than 55% opposition if he had asked some version of the following questions:

  1. Do you favor or oppose colleges setting lower admission requirements for blacks and Hispanics, higher standards for whites, and much higher standards for Asians?
  2. What is better for higher education in the United States: a) colleges and universities accepting the most qualified candidates while trying to build a diverse class by taking into account socio-economic class, extra-curricular interests and talents, and geographic diversity; or b) doing everything in “a” plus lowering academic requirements for blacks and Hispanics in order to ensure a “critical mass” of such students to promote racial diversity?
  3. a) Do affirmative programs discriminate against Asians? b) Would you support it if it did?
  4. Has giving admission preferences to blacks and Hispanics improved race relations in the United States, made it worse, or something in between?

As other surveys have shown, many people who indicate they oppose preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity will say they support “affirmative action.”


Say What?