ONTD Political

Blacks, Nonblacks Hold Sharply Different Views of Martin Case

1:07 am - 04/07/2012
Blacks, Nonblacks Hold Sharply Different Views of Martin Case
Blacks more likely to believe race is a major factor

Black Americans' views differ dramatically from those of nonblacks regarding the circumstances involved in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26. Blacks are paying much closer attention to the news of the incident; overwhelmingly believe that George Zimmerman, the individual who shot Martin, is guilty of a crime; believe that racial bias was a major factor in the events leading up to the shooting; and believe that Zimmerman would already have been arrested had the victim been white, not black.

These results are from an April 2-4 USA Today/Gallup poll of 3,006 Americans, including 242 blacks, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Martin's death has sparked national interest and, more recently, protests, because Zimmerman, who is white and Hispanic, was not arrested after he claimed self-defense under Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law. With many black leaders and others calling for Zimmerman's arrest and charging racism against the Sanford police department, the case has clearly captured the attention of the large majority of black Americans across the country.

The 52% of blacks who say they are following the news about the Trayvon Martin case very closely contrasts sharply with the 19% of nonblacks who are paying equally close attention. More broadly, eight in 10 blacks are following the story either very or somewhat closely, compared with 59% of nonblacks.

Blacks More Sure That Zimmerman Is Guilty, Racial Bias a Factor

Blacks are much more likely than nonblacks to have an opinion about Zimmerman's guilt. Overall, 72% of blacks say Zimmerman is definitely or probably guilty of a crime; 1% say he is not. Nonblacks also say Zimmerman is guilty, by 32% to 7%, but well over half of nonblacks say Zimmerman's guilt is unclear from the available information.

Blacks are more certain about their opinions than are nonblacks. Blacks who say Zimmerman is guilty of a crime are significantly more likely to say he is definitely guilty than probably guilty, while nonblacks tilt more toward the "probably guilty" choice.

Additionally, 72% of blacks say racial bias was a major factor in the events that led up to the shooting death of Martin, with another 13% saying it was a minor factor. Nonblacks, on the other hand, are significantly less certain, with 31% saying racial bias was a major factor, 26% saying it was a minor factor, and 25% saying it was not a factor at all.

Blacks Say Zimmerman Would Have Been Arrested if Victim Had Been White

A final question included in the poll asked if Zimmerman would have been arrested under the same circumstances if the person he shot was white.

Consistent with the widespread view among blacks that racial bias was a factor in the events surrounding the shooting, blacks overwhelmingly (73%) say Zimmerman would have been arrested had the victim been white. Nonblacks, on the other hand, tilt toward the view that race did not make a difference in the Zimmerman situation (49%), with 35% saying he would have arrested had the victim been white.


U.S. public opinion about the Trayvon Martin case in Florida reflects the same type of racial divide found in 1995 surveys asking about the murder trial of O.J. Simpson in Los Angeles. In one Gallup poll conducted Oct. 5-7, 1995, for example, 78% of blacks said the jury that found Simpson not guilty of murder made the right decision, while only 42% of whites agreed.

The situation in the Trayvon Martin case is different from the Simpson situation, however, because the victim, rather than the alleged perpetrator, is black. Still, both situations, even though 17 years apart, apparently tap into the same deeply felt views of the average black American that the criminal justice system in America is biased against blacks. Underscoring this conclusion, a 2008 Gallup Minority Rights and Relations survey found that 67% of blacks said the American justice system was biased against blacks, a viewpoint only 32% of non-Hispanic whites agreed with.

Blacks across the country are clearly following and thinking about the Martin case, exemplified by the extraordinary 80% who say they are following the news about it closely. This level of attention to the case comes at a time when a number of prominent black activists and politicians have taken up the case as a cause. MSNBC talk show host Al Sharpton broadcast live from Sanford, Fla., for several days, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and well-known black activists also went to Sanford, black Congressman Bobby Rush of Illinois wore a "hoodie" into Congress to express his concern about the case, and President Obama himself got involved in his responses to questions about the case -- saying if he had a son, he would have looked like Martin.

The average black American has strong views on the case, perceiving that Zimmerman is guilty of a crime and that race has played a major factor in the case. Nonblacks, by contrast, are much less likely to think Zimmerman is guilty and are substantially less likely to believe that race was a factor.

The next steps in the Trayvon Martin case are unclear at this point. Florida's governor has appointed a special prosecutor to look into the case, and a grand jury is slated to review the case on Tuesday. It is possible that Zimmerman will ultimately be arrested and will stand trial. Whatever happens, however, it is clear that the case struck a highly responsive chord with blacks across the country, and that blacks' immediate judgments are that this represents still another example of a racially biased criminal justice system.

Survey Methods
Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking April 2-4, 2012, with a random sample of 3,006 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 242 blacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±8 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 2,764 nonblacks, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.


Post-racial, y'all.
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lee_rowan 6th-Apr-2012 04:18 pm (UTC)
I guess I must be black, then. That'd be a shock to my parents.
angelofdeath275 6th-Apr-2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
what does this even mean
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
mirhanda 7th-Apr-2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
Exactly this.
crossfire 6th-Apr-2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
A+++ post
escherzo 6th-Apr-2012 04:25 pm (UTC)
Ugh. Wish I could be surprised by this, but I'm really not. Especially considering the talk of my campus today and yesterday was that someone spray-painted "Long Live Zimmerman" on the side of the Black Cultural Center building.
wesaucereyes 6th-Apr-2012 04:31 pm (UTC)
Geesh, where do you go to school if you don't mind me asking? Even the campus I'm near in KY isn't that insensitive and it's full of cray conservatives and Ron Paul type folks.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
intrikate88 6th-Apr-2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
This white girl is headdesking hard enough to get a concussion.

Jesus fucking christ, world.
riath 6th-Apr-2012 04:44 pm (UTC)
Headdesking over the people who think Martin's race was not a factor in the shooting. Given Zimmerman's numerous past calls to 911 to report "suspicious" young black men, his assumption that Martin was on drugs and his muttering of a racial epithet, I would think that would be more than enough information to see that Zimmerman is a racist asshole.
sankaku_atama 6th-Apr-2012 05:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, you. Just stop with your facts and evidence.
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
nothingmuch 6th-Apr-2012 04:45 pm (UTC)
I'm white, I think Zimmerman is probably guilty, and race played a major factor in why he wasn't arrested.

It's starting to bother me, though, the longer this thing drags out in the media, that this will turn in to another Casey Anthony case, with the media declaring him guilty before there's even a charge, then some famous attorney will swoop in and convince a jury that he's the real victim. :(

Edited at 2012-04-06 04:55 pm (UTC)
vvalkyri 7th-Apr-2012 05:11 am (UTC)
also, every time a witness talks to the media it helps the defense.
nycscribbler 6th-Apr-2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
God, white people. We suck.
doverz 6th-Apr-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
We really do.
keeni84 6th-Apr-2012 04:57 pm (UTC)
Here is a photo of the aforementioned "Long Live Zimmerman" hate speech.

Long Live Zimmerman

fornikate 6th-Apr-2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
holy shit, i hate people
keeni84 6th-Apr-2012 05:02 pm (UTC)
This article can fuck off with the comparison of Trayvon Martin to OJ Simpson. Seriously, FUCK YOU.

Trayvon Martin was not charged with the crime of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend. He was not a suspect in any criminal case, did not flee from the police, and most certainly did not have the power, fame and money that OJ Simpson did.

Trayvon Martin was simply walking home after grabbing snacks at the nearby store.

It's not the same, regardless of whether or not blacks felt similarly about the fucking OJ case. Eugh, way to go.
lizzy_someone 6th-Apr-2012 05:10 pm (UTC)
But ~all black people are interchangeable~, amirite?
effervescent 6th-Apr-2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
I'm not surprised... It's easier to dismiss something or not follow it that closely if you're not living in fear of it every day.

I can't believe that this is still dragging on. At this point I'm really starting to worry that they're not going to do anything about it, and the self defense claim will stand.
circumambulate 6th-Apr-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
Um, this data is crap - the "National Adult" average almost exactly mirrors the "Non-Black" numbers. Given the wide disparity in the numbers between Black and Non-Black that means that there were too few Black participants to even marginally impact the overall average.
hinoema 6th-Apr-2012 06:16 pm (UTC)
You're right. Good catch!

For results based on the total sample of 242 blacks...

For results based on the total sample of 2,764 nonblacks...

More than ten to one. Way to be representative, there, survey.

Edited at 2012-04-06 06:18 pm (UTC)
dawn9476 6th-Apr-2012 06:52 pm (UTC)
Speaking of the Trayvon case, I am watching the playback of the Stephanie Miller show that I DVR'd off of Current and she just had a caller that brought up that Zimmerman wasn't on the phone with 911. Apparently, he was on the phone with an actual cop at the police station. That cop ordered him not to pursue Trayvon, which Zimmerman ignored. Ignoring a cop is illegal in FL and you can get up to a year in jail. It makes Zimmerman's "Stand Your Ground" defense look more like a big pile of horse shit then it already did.

Edited at 2012-04-06 06:55 pm (UTC)
keeni84 6th-Apr-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Apparently, he was on the phone with an actual cop at the police station.

If this is true...
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
captain_emily 6th-Apr-2012 08:03 pm (UTC)
Okay, are "race baiting" and "race baiter" the latest Fox buzzwords about the Martin case? I was reading an article on MSNBC about a website (that supposedly should be up soon) collecting donations for Zimmerman's defense and many of the pro-Zimmerman asshats used some form of the phrase "race baiting" in their comment. It seems too widespread and oddly specific to be a coincidence. I'm guessing that it's another Fox buzzword (like "death panel" or "Obamacare") that's being passed around, but it'll be a cold day in Hell before I actually watch Fox long enough to find out.
squee4242 7th-Apr-2012 04:15 am (UTC)
I don't know that it's Fox yet. I think they pick up THEIR cues from the nastier corners of the right-wing blogosphere, and normalize it into the national conversation. I know that the NY Post (a paper from Rupert Murdoch) called the NY senators who wore hoodies on the floor "race hustlers" and Limbaugh's been calling the President a "thug" but I haven't heard that any mainstream TV commenters have had the balls to go that far yet. But they're eager to push the conversation there, for sure.
gretchystretchy 6th-Apr-2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
White people will ignore racism and white privilege even when it's staring them in the face, news at 11.

(I would've had a more insightful comment if I weren't so tired. XD)
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