With the probable end of affirmative action by the Supreme Court looming over us, many news organizations have commissioned polls asking Americans what they think of the idea. Yesterday CBS News and npr both published surveys on the subject and, well, the conclusions they reached do not match. nprThe poll story topped the results of a question about Roe v. Wade, but later we found this:
- 57%…say they think affirmative action programs in hiring, promotion and college admissions should continue. More than three-quarters of Democrats said so, but nearly 6 in 10 Republicans disagreed.
- Independents were split, 50-46% in favor of maintaining affirmative action programs.
It’s not an overwhelming result, but it’s strong enough to sustain affirmative action. But as mentioned above, CBS also published a poll yesterday. His story was headlined “CBS News Poll Finds Majority Says Colleges Shouldn’t Consider Race In Admissions.”
The American public feels that many groups face discrimination today and widely believes that racism remains a problem in the country, at least to some degree, but is more divided on affirmative action as a general policy, with a narrow majority supporting it…
…that general point of view does not extend to the particular mechanism of making college admissions consider the applicant’s race. Looking at the pending Supreme Court decision, the views of Americans lean toward a substantial majority against allowing universities to consider race.
So overall affirmative action was 53-47, but considering race in college admissions it was 30-70. In it CBS poll, even a majority of Democrats were against using race in admissions with 55% saying it shouldn’t be allowed.
Maybe the CBS survey is just an outlier? Apparently not because a research bench The poll’s release earlier this month also found that a majority of respondents were against considering race in admissions.
…half of US adults say they disapprove of selective colleges and universities taking prospective students’ racial and ethnic backgrounds into account when making admissions decisions. Fewer (33%) approve of universities considering race and ethnicity to increase diversity in schools, while 16% aren’t sure.
Obviously, 50-33 against isn’t as big of a split as 70-30 in the CBS survey but at least the overall conclusion agrees. But if we keep going back we find that at the end of May nbc news published a poll on the same topic and it was even more favorable than the aforementioned NPR poll.
Most Americans say the Supreme Court should not bar colleges and universities from considering applicants’ race in the admissions process, according to a new poll released just weeks before the high court appears ready to do just that. that…
Sixty-three percent of adults surveyed, across racial and political lines, said the Supreme Court should not prevent colleges from taking applicants’ race and ethnicity into account in the admissions process.
Finally, if we go back to February of this year, Reuters published a poll that said the majority objected to the use of race in admissions:
Sixty-two percent of Americans say race and ethnicity should not be considered at all in college admissions, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll of policies at the center of high-profile cases before the US Supreme Court. USA this spring.
The public opinion poll, which polled 4,408 adults between February 6 and 13, found that 73% of Republicans and 46% of Democrats said they were against race-based admissions, or action affirmative, which is a practice used by colleges and universities to boost racial diversity within their student bodies.
So to wrap all of this up, we have five surveys conducted in the last four months (I probably missed more). Three of them found that Americans are against admissions based on race, with a top score of 70-30. Two of the polls found the opposite with a top result of 63% saying the court should not prevent the use of race in admissions.
The bottom line is that the results are all over the map. Usually, when that’s the case, I suspect it’s because the respondents don’t actually know anything about the topic and are just reacting to the language presented by the survey. So if the poll asks if the court should ban the use of race in admissions, most say no because banning sounds extreme. But if you ask similar people if race should be used in admissions, most say no because race-based benefits don’t seem fair.
Ultimately, the only reason the polls matter is because the two sides are trying to figure out which side will take a hit if the Supreme Court ends affirmative action. I suppose many people will see the eruption of outrage on the left and infer from that reaction that the right has done something terrible that everyone disagrees with. But I think when you really present people with the unvarnished truth of what’s going on, that is, universities should intentionally discriminate now, to rectify past discrimination, most people will say no. This issue is a loser for progressives and there is evidence that this is the case even in blue California. Luckily for the liberals who support this, there’s probably no one in the media who frames the issue as directly as I do.
Update: In fact, a third poll on this subject was published yesterday.
A new poll from the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently found that nearly half of those polled are against affirmative action.
The poll, which had a core sample of 1,000 Americans plus an oversample of 133 black Americans, found that blacks are more supportive of affirmative action, with 52% of black respondents supporting it and just 21% opposing it. On the other hand, only 33% of all respondents support affirmative action, while 44% oppose it.