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THIRTEEN POLL QUESTIONS PROBING THE VIEWS
OF AMERICAN VOTERS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

The poll whose questions appear below is the most intelligent and extensive attempt I have seen to discover how American voters define, and whether they support, affirmative action programs. The poll, released on June 3, 2009, was conducted from May 26 through June 1 by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, Hamden, CT. The Institute states that 3,097 registered voters were surveyed nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points. According to the accuracy ratings for election polls at http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/search/label/pollster%20ratings , the Quinnipiac Poll rates higher than many polls that are better known. For more data or RSS feed from the Institute, see its website http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml , or call (203) 582-5201.

The voters surveyed were tabulated by race, ethnicity, sex, religion, politics, political philosophy, age, education, and income. They were helped to define what they meant by affirmative action programs, to say which kind, if any, they approved or disapproved of, and to clarify the standards by which they made these judgments. Such a poll is a superb educational opportunity, not only for those surveyed, but for anyone who reads and thinks about the questions.

The 13 questions are presented here, first by themselves, and then accompanied by respondents' answers. The latter are provided for US voters as a whole, and then for the voters, according to their politics, sex, ethnicity, age, income, political philosophy, presidential vote, education, and (among whites) religion. Finally, the questions are listed again, with a few modifications, which might have improved the poll's ability to descry the public mind.

The 13 affirmative action questions begin with Number 11. I wondered what the first ten questions were, why they were omitted, and whether responding to them might have influenced respondents' answers concerning affirmative action. The Institute explains that the first ten questions, though released a day later as a separate poll concerning the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sotomayor, did indeed precede the 13 questions in the May 26 June 1 survey. QQ 1-5 were standard approval/disapproval questions, concerning one's Congressman, the President, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. QQ 6-10 dealt with the Sotomayor nomination. The last two raised the issue of judicial appointments based in part on ethnicity and gender. They are worded as follows:

9. As you may know, Sonia Sotomayor would be the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice. Do you think this was a very important factor in President Obama's choice of her, somewhat important, not too important, or not important at all?

10. Do you think making the Supreme Court look like the rest of the nation in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, and gender is more important than a justice's legal qualifications for the job, less important or about as important?

Although the phrase, affirmative action, is not in these questions, the issue is present. My guess is that these two questions, while helping respondents bring to mind their opinions concerning decisions based on a candidate's ethnicity, race, sex, or religion, did not pull or push those opinions one way or another.

Curtis Crawford

  ========================================

THE THIRTEEN QUESTIONS

Do you think affirmative action programs that give preferences to blacks and other minorities in hiring, promotions and college admissions should be continued , or do you think these affirmative action programs should be abolished?

Which comes closer to your point of view - affirmative action programs seek out qualified minorities and do not disadvantage members of other groups, or affirmative action programs result in members of some minority groups being advantaged at the expense of other groups?

If affirmative action programs giving preference to blacks and other minorities do result in less opportunities for whites, do you think that's a price worth paying to help blacks and other minorities, or not?

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?

Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for government jobs so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?

Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for jobs in private companies so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?

Does Barack Obama's election as president make you more likely to support continuation of affirmative action programs, less likely, or does it not change your view?

In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - Hispanics in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - white women in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - blacks in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to those who are - handicapped in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - gays and lesbians in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

Which do you think is the best term to describe these programs affirmative action or preferences?

  ==================================

  THE THIRTEEN QUESTIONS
WITH VOTER RESPONSES

11. Do you think affirmative action programs that give preferences to blacks and other minorities in hiring, promotions and college admissions should be continued, or do you think these affirmative action programs should be abolished?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Continued
36%
18%
57%
30%
31%
39%
27%
78%
45%
 
Abolished
55
73
33
63
62
50
64
14
46
 
DK/NA
9
9
10
8
7
11
10
8
9


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Continued
59%
36%
20%
13%
55%
37%
24%
22%
26%
43%
  Abolished
33
54
73
80
34
55
67
69
67
39
  DK/NA
8
10
6
7
11
8
9
9
7
18


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Continued
43%
34%
34%
41%
29%
35%
34%
40%
  Abolished
51
58
54
50
64
59
57
51
  DK/NA
7
8
12
9
7
6
9
9

 

12. Which comes closer to your point of view - affirmative action programs seek out qualified minorities and do not disadvantage members of other groups or affirmative action programs result in members of some minority groups being advantaged at the expense of other groups?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
No
Disadvantage
44%
30%
58%
39%
39%
47%
38%
70%
54%
 
At Others'
Expense
46
62
29
53
51
42
53
18
35
 

DK/NA
10
7
13
8
10
11
9
12
11


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/ Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  No
Disadvantage
60%
45%
32%
29%
58%
47%
38%
37%
35%
54%
  At Others'
Expense
32
45
60
65
31
44
53
52
59
37
 
DK/NA
8
10
8
7
11
9
9
10
6
9


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  No
Disadvantage
47%
41%
45%
49%
41%
39%
43%
45%
  At Others'
Expense
50
51
38
39
53
55
45
48
 
DK/NA
4
8
16
11
6
6
11
7


13 . If affirmative action programs giving preference to blacks and other minorities do result in less opportunities for whites, do you think that's a price worth paying to help blacks and other minorities, or not?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Yes
29%
15%
44%
28%
28%
30%
25%
48%
34%
 
No
59
74
45
61
62
57
63
40
59
 
DK/NA
12
11
11
11
10
13
11
12
7


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Yes
49%
30%
16%
12%
45%
31%
17%
22%
24%
44%
  No
43
56
75
78
43
60
71
68
68
35
  DK/NA
8
13
10
10
11
9
12
11
8
21


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Yes
39%
27%
27%
31%
25%
34%
25%
39%
  No
53
62
60
59
66
53
63
49
  DK/NA
9
11
13
10.
8
13
11
12



14. 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?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Shd have for
past discrim.
20%
13%
30%
16%
16%
23%
17%
33%
30%
 
Shd have for
diversity
27
18
39
24
26
29
23
45
33
 

Shd not have

47
64
27
55
54
42
55
16
32
 
DK/NA
5
4
4
5
4
6
5
6
6


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Shd have for
past discrim.
27%
20%
17%
10%
25%
25%
19%
16%
16%
18%
  Shd have for
diversity
40
32
14
14
42
32
18
20
24
34
  Shd not have
29
44
66
73
29
38
57
59
57
40
  DK/NA
4
5
3
4
5
5
5
5
4
7


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Shd have for
past discrim.
20%
21%
20%
27%
13%
15%
22%
15%
  Shd have for
diversity
32
26
26
27
28
31
22
39
  Shd not have
45
49
46
42
56
52
49
43
  DK/NA
3
4
7
4
4
2
6
4

 

15. Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for government jobs so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Yes
25%
13%
39%
23%
25%
26%
19%
49%
38%
 
No
70
84
56
73
71
69
76
45
58
 
DK/NA
5
3
5
5
4
5
5
6
4


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Yes
41%
25%
16%
9%
39%
30%
17%
16%
20%
32%
  No
53
70
81
88
55
66
79
80
77
55
  DK/NA
5
5
3
3
6
3
4
4
3
13


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Yes
33%
26%
21%
28%
23%
26%
23%
32%
  No
64
70
73
67
75
70
73
63
  DK/NA
3
4
6
5
3
4
5
5

 

16. Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for jobs in private companies so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Yes
21%
10%
32%
19%
18%
23%
15%
43%
28%
 
No
74
86
63
76
77
72
80
52
67
 
DK/NA
5
4
5
6
6
5
5
5
5


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Yes
32%
21%
14%
6%
30%
26%
14%
11%
16%
29%
  No
61
74
84
91
63
68
83
85
80
63
  DK/NA
7
5
2
3
7
6
3
4
4
8


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Yes
26%
19%
19%
26%
16%
15%
20%
23%
  No
70
76
75
69
81
80
75
72
  DK/NA
4
5
7
5
3
4
5
6

 

17. Does Barack Obama's election as president make you more likely to support continuation of affirmative action programs, less likely, or does it not change your view?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
More likely
8%
3%
15%
5%
7%
8%
4%
23%
17%
 
Less likely
10
17
6
10
12
9
12
4
3
  Doesn't change view
80
78
78
83
81
80
82
71
76
 
DK/NA
2
3
1
2
1
3
2
2
4


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  More likely
12%
7%
5%
1%
12%
10%
4%
4%
5%
6%
  Less likely
7
9
14
18
5
6
13
13
12
6
  Doesn't change view
80
83
78
78
83
81
81
81
81
80
  DK/NA
1
1
3
2
1
3
3
2
2
9


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  More likely
8%
7%
8%
11%
5%
4%
9%
6%
  Less likely
6
10
13
11
10
8
11
8
  Doesn't change view
84
81
77
76
84
87
78
86
  DK/NA
1
2
3
3
1
1
3
1



18. In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - Hispanics in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Support
29%
13%
45%
25%
27%
30%
21%
59%
48%
 
Oppose
64
82
46
71
68
61
73
30
47
 
DK/NA
7
5
10
4
5
8
6
11
5


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Support
53%
27%
15%
7%
46%
31%
15%
16%
19%
48%
  Oppose
40
65
81
88
44
64
80
79
76
41
  DK/NA
6
8
4
4
10
6
5
5
5
10


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Support
45%
26%
22%
32%
25%
30%
26%
35%
  Oppose
52
67
69
62
70
64
67
58
  DK/NA
2
7
9
6
5
6
7
7

 

19. In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - white women in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Support
32%
19%
48%
26%
29%
35%
26%
55%
47%
 
Oppose
62
76
43
69
66
58
68
37
49
 
DK/NA
6
4
9
5
8
7
6
8
4


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Support
52%
29%
22%
11%
45%
37%
22%
22%
25%
41%
  Oppose
41
63
76
84
45
59
73
73
72
49
  DK/NA
7
7
3
4
10
4
4
5
4
10


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Support
42%
30%
29%
39%
25%
28%
32%
33%
  Oppose
56
63
64
56
69
66
62
61
  DK/NA
2
7
7
5
6
6
6
6



20. In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - blacks in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Support
33%
17%
52%
28%
30%
36%
24%
69%
51%
 
Oppose
61
79
40
68
65
57
69
26
46
 
DK/NA
6
4
8
5
5
7
6
5
4


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Support
57%
31%
20%
9%
52%
35%
20%
20%
23%
52%
  Oppose
37
62
77
87
40
61
75
76
73
39
  DK/NA
6
7
3
4
8
4
5
5
4
9


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Support
47%
32%
27%
39%
26%
32%
31%
37%
  Oppose
51
63
65
56
69
62
63
57
  DK/NA
2
6
8
5
5
5
6
6



21. In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to those who are - handicapped in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Support
55%
44%
68%
52%
55%
55%
49%
79%
66%
 
Oppose
39
51
25
43
40
38
44
16
31
 
DK/NA
6
5
8
5
5
7
6
5
3


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Support
68%
56%
45%
40%
66%
57%
51%
49%
49%
59%
  Oppose
26
39
50
55
27
39
43
46
47
25
  DK/NA
6
6
5
5
8
4
6
6
4
16


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Support
59%
53%
55%
62%
48%
51%
56%
54%
  Oppose
38
41
37
33
47
42
38
40
  DK/NA
2
6
8
5
5
6
6
6



22. In order to increase diversity, do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - gays and lesbians in hiring, promotions and college admissions?

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Support
27%
12%
43%
24%
24%
30%
21%
54%
40%
 
Oppose
65
82
47
71
70
62
72
38
56
 
DK/NA
8
6
10
6
6
9
7
8
4


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Support
49%
25%
14%
8%
42%
29%
15%
15%
22%
40%
  Oppose
43
67
80
88
49
65
78
79
72
72
  DK/NA
7
8
6
5
9
7
7
7
5
18


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Support
40%
24%
23%
32%
22%
23%
27%
29%
  Oppose
57
69
67
61
71
70
66
65
  DK/NA
3
7
9
6
6
7
8
7



23. Which do you think is the best term to describe these programs affirmative action or preferences?
 

 
Tot
Rep
Dem
Ind
Men
Wom
Wht
Blk
His
 
Affirmative Action
36%
24%
51%
12%
35%
37%
30%
63%
48%
 
Preferences
51
65
39
55
54
50
57
31
42
 
DK/NA
12
11
10
13
11
13
13
6
10


    POL PHIL................ PRES VOTE............. WHITE [Religion]..............
   
Lib
Mod
Con
Bush/
McCain
Kerry/
Obama
Bush/
Obama
BrnAgn Evngl
Prot
Cath
Jew
  Affirmative Action
53%
35%
27%
17%
54%
42%
23%
25%
28%
50%
  Preferences
36
54
63
72
35
49
64
61
61
31
  DK/NA
11
11
11
11
11
9
13
13
11
19


    AGE IN YRS................. INCOME......................... EDUCATION.....
   
18-34
35-54
55+
< 50
50-100

>100K

No Coll
Degree
Coll
Degree
  Affirmative Action
43%
37%
32%
37%
34%
41%
31%
48%
  Preferences
48
55
52
50
57
52
56
42
  DK/NA
9
9
16
13
9
7
13
11

=============================================

THE THIRTEEN QUESTIONS
[with suggested deletions in brackets and suggested additions in italics]

Do you think affirmative action programs that give preferences to blacks and other minorities in hiring, promotions and college admissions should be continued , or do you think these affirmative action programs should be abolished?  

Which comes closer to your point of view - affirmative action programs seek out qualified minorities and do not disadvantage members of other groups, or affirmative action programs result in members of some minority groups being advantaged at the expense of individuals in other groups?  

If affirmative action programs giving preference to blacks and other minorities do result in [less] fewer opportunities for whites, do you think that's a price worth paying to help blacks and other minorities, or not?  

Which comes closer to your point of view regarding affirmative action programs in the work place
A) We should have affirmative action programs
that give preferences to overcome past discrimination;
B)
We should not have affirmative action programs that give preferences , because they discriminate;
C) We should have affirmative action programs [to increase diversity] that give preferences;or
D) We should not have affirmative action programs
that give preferences ?  

Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for government jobs so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?  

Do you think members of some racial groups should get preference for jobs in private companies so that the workforce has the same racial makeup as its community?  

Does Barack Obama's election as president make you more likely to support continuation of affirmative action programs that give preferences, less likely, or does it not change your view?  

[In order to increase diversity,] Do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to Hispanics , in hiring, promotions and college admissions?
[This and the following four questions deal with affirmative action preference programs for individuals in five different population groups. Striking the first five words in these questions would allow respondents to base their answers, not only on the diversity impact, but on any grounds they deem relevant.]  

[In order to increase diversity,] Do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - white women , in hiring, promotions and college admissions?  

[In order to increase diversity,] Do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to blacks , in hiring, promotions and college admissions?  

[In order to increase diversity,] Do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - [those who are] the handicapped , in hiring, promotions and college admissions?  

[In order to increase diversity,] Do you support or oppose affirmative action programs that give preferences to - gays and lesbians , in hiring, promotions and college admissions?  

Which do you think is the [best] better term to describe these programs affirmative action or preferences?

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