Americans Cooling To Affirmative Action: New Poll Finds Support At A Record Low

June 15, 2013  |  


Despite reports finding that Americans are still pro-affirmative action (except when it comes to college applications), a new study by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal has found that the number of Americans supporting affirmative action is at a record low.

This news comes at a time when the Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the issue of affirmative action in the case of the University of Texas admissions program violated the Constitution by using racial preferences.

According to the new poll, only 45 percent of respondents said they believe affirmative action programs are still needed to counteract the effects of discrimination against minorities. An equal 45 percent feel the programs have gone too far and should be ended because they unfairly discriminate against whites, reports NBC News.

Over the past 20 years, the number of Americans supporting affirmative action has been in decline, dropping from a high of 61 percent in its favor in 1991.

According to experts, there are several reasons for this decrease in support. Some are calling it “diversity fatigue.” Others say it is a result of an African-American president, a signal that there is no more need for affirmative action. Add to this the effect of 20 years of anti-affirmative-action campaigns.

“When you see that we have an African-American president, African-American CEOs, African-American generals — you can mention all the names — the Colin Powells, the Barack Obamas. If you watch TV, you say, look, things have improved dramatically. When Barack Obama was elected, amazingly, everybody said it’s a post-racial America, but if you look just below the surface … at the things that are very important, like jobs — African-American jobs and female jobs are still some percentage below what white males are,” Weldon Latham, a Washington-based attorney, who is black and advises corporations on diversity issues, told NBC News.

Campaigns against affirmative  action, such as the highly publicized one by former University of California Regent Ward Connerly (who is black), have been somewhat successful. Affirmative action has been banned in eight states — Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Whites and blacks are split on the issue of affirmative action. Almost six in 10 (or 56 percent) of the whites polled were against affirmative action. Minorities, however, responded differently. Eight in 10 blacks and six in 10 Hispanics favor it.

There is also an ideological gap. Some 67 percent of Democrats say programs are still necessary while only 22 percent of Republicans, 17 percent of Tea Party members and 39 percent of independents support affirmative action.

How do you feel about affirmative action?

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