June 3, 2009 - U.S. Voters Disagree 3-1 With Sotomayor On Key Case, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Most Say Abolish Affirmative Action

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American voters say 55 - 36 percent that affirmative action should be abolished, and disagree 71 - 19 percent with Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's ruling in the New Haven firefighters' case, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

More than 70 percent of voters say diversity is not a good enough reason to give minorities preferential treatment in competition for government or private sector jobs, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University survey of more than 3,000 voters finds.

Looking at specifics of affirmative action, American voters:
  • Support 55 - 39 percent affirmative action for the disabled in hiring, promotions and college admissions. Protestants and Catholics support it, 49 - 46 percent and 49 - 47 percent, respectively. Jews also support it 59 - 25 percent;
  • Oppose 70 - 25 percent giving some racial groups preference for government jobs to increase diversity. Black voters support it 49 - 45 percent while Hispanic voters are opposed 58 - 38 percent;
  • Oppose 74 - 21 percent giving some racial groups preference for private sector jobs to increase diversity. Voters in every racial and religious group oppose this;
  • Oppose 64 - 29 percent affirmative action for Hispanics in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support it 59 - 30 percent while Hispanics split 47 - 48 percent;
  • Oppose 61 - 33 percent affirmative action for blacks in hiring, promotion and college entry. Black voters support this 69 - 26 percent, as do Hispanics 51 - 46 percent;
  • Oppose 62 - 32 percent affirmative action for white women in hiring, promotion and college entry. Women oppose this 58 - 35 percent but blacks support it 55 - 37 percent.
"Whether it's a belief that the statute of limitations on past wrongs has run out or economic pressures on workers, programs that supporters call affirmative action and opponents label racial preferences are unpopular with most American voters," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

"African-Americans are the only group that favors such programs, while Hispanics are mixed. Women are more supportive than men. Younger voters and those lower on the income scale are more supportive than older and more affluent voters," Brown added.

American voters oppose 65 - 27 percent giving preference to gays and lesbians in hiring, promotions and college admissions. Among all gender, political, racial and religious groups, the only support is 54 - 38 percent among blacks and 49 - 43 percent among liberals.

"There is little difference among white Catholics and Protestants and white evangelical Christians, but Jews are generally more supportive of affirmative action," Brown said.

"Terminology is often important in the battle over such programs. By a 51 - 36 percent margin voters say 'preferences' is the better way to describe them than 'affirmative action,' even though the news media mostly use the term 'affirmative action.'

"Proponents have long argued that such programs seek out qualified minorities but don't disadvantage anyone. But by a narrow margin, voters see a zero-sum game in which someone - generally white males - loses when someone else gains.

"What is significant is that the public clearly opposes the idea that such programs are justified as a way of increasing diversity, which has become the rationale in recent years as opposed to compensating for past discrimination which was the reason when they first began."

The election of Barack Obama, the first African-American President, has not changed their views on the subject, 80 percent of voters say.

"There is very strong opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor's position on the New Haven firefighters' case. Even Democrats say 59 - 27 percent that New Haven was wrong to throw out the promotional exam because no black firefighters scored well enough to be promoted. It is obviously an area that those trying to block her confirmation may be able to exploit politically," said Brown. "There is clearly strong opposition from white voters about these programs."

Voters say 28 - 7 percent they are less likely to support Judge Sotomayor because of the decision, with 59 percent who say it doesn't matter.

From May 26 - June 1, Quinnipiac University surveyed 3,097 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 1.8 percentage points.

The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio and the nation as a public service and for research. For more data or RSS feed - http://www.quinnipiac.edu/polling.xml, or call (203) 582-5201.

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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Continued            43%    34%    34%    41%    29%    35%    59%    36%    20%
Abolished            51     58     54     50     64     59     33     54     73
DK/NA                 7      8     12      9      7      6      8     10      6
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Continued            13%    55%    37%    34%    40%    24%    22%    26%    43%
Abolished            80     34     55     57     51     67     69     67     39
DK/NA                 7     11      8      9      9      9      9      7     18
 
 
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 expense of others 46     62     29     53     51     42     53     18     35
DK/NA                10      7     13      8     10     11      9     12     11
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
No disadvantage      47%    41%    45%    49%    41%    39%    60%    45%    32%
At expense of others 50     51     38     39     53     55     32     45     60
DK/NA                 4      8     16     11      6      6      8     10      8
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
No disadvantage      29%    58%    47%    43%    45%    38%    37%    35%    54%
At expense of others 65     31     44     45     48     53     52     59     37
DK/NA                 7     11      9     11      7      9     10      6      9
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes                  39%    27%    27%    31%    25%    34%    49%    30%    16%
No                   53     62     60     59     66     53     43     56     75
DK/NA                 9     11     13     10      8     14      8     13     10
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Yes                  12%    45%    31%    25%    39%    17%    22%    24%    44%
No                   78     43     60     63     49     71     68     68     35
DK/NA                10     11      9     11     12     12     11      8     21
 
 
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
 
A) Shld have for
past discrimination  20%    13%    30%    16%    16%    23%    17%    33%    30%
B) Shld have to
increase diversity   27     18     39     24     26     29     23     45     33
C) Shld not have     47     64     27     55     54     42     55     16     32
DK/NA                 5      4      4      5      4      6      5      6      6
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
A) Shld have for
past discrimination  20%    21%    20%    27%    13%    15%    27%    20%    17%
B) Shld have to
increase diversity   32     26     26     27     28     31     40     32     14
C) Shld not have     45     49     46     42     56     52     29     44     66
DK/NA                 3      4      7      4      4      2      4      5      3
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
A) Shld have for
past discrimination  10%    25%    25%    22%    15%    19%    16%    16%    18%
B) Shld have to
increase diversity   14     42     32     22     39     18     20     24     34
C) Shld not have     73     29     38     49     43     57     59     57     40
DK/NA                 4      5      5      6      4      5      5      4      7
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes                  33%    26%    21%    28%    23%    26%    41%    25%    16%
No                   64     70     73     67     75     70     53     70     81
DK/NA                 3      4      6      5      3      4      5      5      3
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Yes                   9%    39%    30%    23%    32%    17%    16%    20%    32%
No                   88     55     66     73     63     79     80     77     55
DK/NA                 3      6      3      5      5      4      4      3     13
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes                  26%    19%    19%    26%    16%    15%    32%    21%    14%
No                   70     76     75     69     81     80     61     74     84
DK/NA                 4      5      7      5      3      4      7      5      2
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Yes                   6%    30%    26%    20%    23%    14%    11%    16%    29%
No                   91     63     68     75     72     83     85     80     63
DK/NA                 3      7      6      5      6      3      4      4      8
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
More likely           8%     7%     8%    11%     5%     4%    12%     7%     5%
Less likely           6     10     13     11     10      8      7      9     14
Doesn't change view  84     81     77     76     84     87     80     83     78
DK/NA                 1      2      3      3      1      1      1      1      3
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
More likely           1%    12%    10%     9%     6%     4%     4%     5%     6%
Less likely          18      5      6     11      8     13     13     12      6
Doesn't change view  78     83     81     78     86     81     81     81     80
DK/NA                 2      1      3      3      1      3      2      2      9
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              45%    26%    22%    32%    25%    30%    53%    27%    15%
Oppose               52     67     69     62     70     64     40     65     81
DK/NA                 2      7      9      6      5      6      6      8      4
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Support               7%    46%    31%    26%    35%    15%    16%    19%    48%
Oppose               88     44     64     67     58     80     79     76     41
DK/NA                 4     10      6      7      7      5      5      5     10
 
 
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      6      7      6      8      4
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              42%    30%    29%    39%    25%    28%    52%    29%    22%
Oppose               56     63     64     56     69     66     41     63     76
DK/NA                 2      7      7      5      6      6      7      7      3
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Support              11%    45%    37%    32%    33%    22%    22%    25%    41%
Oppose               84     45     59     62     61     73     73     72     49
DK/NA                 4     10      4      6      6      4      5      4     10
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              47%    32%    27%    39%    26%    32%    57%    31%    20%
Oppose               51     63     65     56     69     62     37     62     77
DK/NA                 2      6      8      5      5      5      6      7      3
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Support               9%    52%    35%    31%    37%    20%    20%    23%    52%
Oppose               87     40     61     63     57     75     76     73     39
DK/NA                 4      8      4      6      6      5      5      4      9
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              59%    53%    55%    62%    48%    51%    68%    56%    45%
Oppose               38     41     37     33     47     42     26     39     50
DK/NA                 2      6      8      5      5      6      6      6      5
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Support              40%    66%    57%    56%    54%    51%    49%    49%    59%
Oppose               55     27     39     38     40     43     46     47     25
DK/NA                 5      8      4      6      6      6      6      4     16
 
 
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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Support              40%    24%    23%    32%    22%    23%    49%    25%    14%
Oppose               57     69     67     61     71     70     43     67     80
DK/NA                 3      7      9      6      6      7      7      8      6
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Support               8%    42%    29%    27%    29%    15%    15%    22%    40%
Oppose               88     49     65     66     65     78     79     72     42
DK/NA                 5      9      7      8      7      7      7      5     18
 
 
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%    32%    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
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Affirmative action   43%    37%    32%    37%    34%    41%    53%    35%    27%
Preferences          48     55     52     50     57     52     36     54     63
DK/NA                 9      9     16     13      9      7     11     11     11
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Affirmative action   17%    54%    42%    31%    48%    23%    25%    28%    50%
Preferences          72     35     49     56     42     64     61     61     31
DK/NA                11     11      9     13     11     13     13     11     19
 
 
24. As you may know, the United States Supreme Court will be deciding a case involving New Haven, CT's use of promotion tests for firefighters. Because no blacks scored high enough to qualify for promotion, the city decided to throw the test out. Do you think the Supreme Court should uphold the city or order the city to promote the 14 white and one Hispanic firefighters who scored high enough for promotion?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Uphold the city      19%    12%    27%    17%    19%    19%    16%    33%    24%
Promote firefighters 71     83     59     74     72     70     76     53     68
DK/NA                10      5     14      9      9     10      8     14      9
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Uphold the city      20%    20%    18%    20%    19%    21%    27%    18%    14%
Promote firefighters 73     71     71     71     75     69     60     72     79
DK/NA                 7      9     11      9      7     10     13      9      7
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
Uphold the city      10%    29%    20%    18%    22%    13%    13%    15%    22%
Promote firefighters 86     54     74     74     64     81     80     79     68
DK/NA                 4     17      6      8     14      6      7      6     11
 
 
25. As you may know, Sonia Sotomayor voted to uphold New Haven's decision as an appellate court judge. Does this make you more likely to favor her appointment to the Supreme Court, less likely, or doesn't it make a difference?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
More likely           7%     5%    10%     7%     7%     7%     7%    10%    11%
Less likely          28     48     10     30     34     23     32      8     29
Doesn't make diff    59     43     75     57     56     62     56     76     53
DK/NA                 6      4      6      6      4      7      5      6      8
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
More likely           5%     9%     7%     7%     9%     6%    10%     7%     6%
Less likely          27     29     28     24     33     33     12     22     47
Doesn't make diff    63     58     58     63     55     58     75     66     41
DK/NA                 4      4      7      6      3      3      3      5      6
 
                     PRES VOTE..........                WHITE.............
                     Bush/  Kerry/ Bush/  NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     McCain Obama  Obama  Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath   Jew
 
More likely           5%    10%     9%     7%     7%     4%     7%     7%     4%
Less likely          52      7     21     28     29     35     34     33     20
Doesn't make diff    39     77     68     59     61     54     54     55     73
DK/NA                 4      5      3      7      3      6      6      4      3