January 14, 2011 - Few U.S. Voters Blame Guns, Rhetoric For Ariz. Shooting, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Most See Racial Progress Since Dr. King Was Killed

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Saturday's shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in which six people were killed, could not have been prevented, 40 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Another 23 percent blame the mental health system, while 15 percent say it was due to heated political rhetoric and 9 percent attribute the tragedy to lax gun control.

American voters say 52 - 41 percent that "heated political rhetoric drives unstable people to commit violence," the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Liberals rather than conservatives are more responsible for such rhetoric, voters say 36 - 32 percent.

Voters surveyed just before the Martin Luther King Day holiday say 31 - 21 percent that the United States is a safer place for political figures today than during Dr. King's era, with 45 percent saying things are about the same.

There has been "significant progress" toward Dr. King's dream of racial equality, voters say 78 - 17 percent, including 71 - 26 percent among black voters. Race relations in the U.S. are "generally good," voters say 64 - 27 percent, including 58 - 30 percent among black voters.

"Americans seem to be rejecting the blame game for the Arizona shooting. By far, the largest number thinks this tragedy could not have been prevented," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Although a bare majority of voters say political rhetoric might drive unstable people to violence, less than one in seven blame it for the Arizona incident.

"As they mark the Martin Luther King holiday, voters of all races think race relations in the U.S. are good and that the nation has made progress in achieving racial equality."

American voters approve 57 - 23 percent of the way President Barack Obama is handling race relations, his best approval rating on any issue. White voters approve 53 - 27 percent, while black voters approve 81 - 5 percent and Hispanic voters approve 70 - 16 percent.

The Arizona shooting captured the public's attention, with 59 percent saying they are paying a lot of attention to the story and 26 percent saying they are paying some attention to the story.

"Those are unusually high numbers," said Brown. "Clearly it has struck a chord with the American people."

Questions about the Arizona shooting were asked January 10-11 as part of a larger Quinnipiac University national survey that stretched from January 4-11. A total of 581 voters were questioned about the shooting with a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percent. The entire survey, including the questions about race relations, includes 1,647 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.4 percent.

Quinnipiac University surveys are conducted by live interviewers calling land lines and cell phones.

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, call (203) 582-5201, or follow us on Twitter.
13. Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Obama is handling race relations?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Approve              57     34     78     56     53     61     53     81     70
Disapprove           23     43      5     24     26     20     27      5     16
DK/NA                20     24     17     20     21     19     21     14     14
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Approve              62     55     58     60     55     57     79     66     35
Disapprove           15     26     25     22     24     22     10     15     40
DK/NA                23     19     17     18     21     21     11     18     25
 
                                   WHITE.............
                     NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Approve              56     60     41     45     59
Disapprove           24     20     39     34     22
DK/NA                20     20     20     21     19
 
TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Obama is handling race relations?
                     Jan 14  Aug 06
                     2011    2009
 
Approve              57      55
Disapprove           23      35
DK/NA                20      10
 
 
38. Do you think race relations in the United States today are generally good or generally bad?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Good                 64     63     67     67     67     62     66     58     59
Bad                  27     30     24     24     26     28     26     30     33
DK/NA                 8      7      9      9      7     10      8     12      8
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Good                 66     66     64     61     71     71     66     67     63
Bad                  27     28     26     32     24     21     25     24     30
DK/NA                 7      7     10      8      5      8      8      9      7
 
                                   WHITE.............
                     NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Good                 63     68     62     64     65
Bad                  28     23     31     26     30
DK/NA                 8      9      7     10      5
 
TREND: Do you think race relations in the United States today are generally good or generally bad?
                     Jan 14  Nov 11
                     2011    2008
 
Good                 64      64
Bad                  27      22
DK/NA                 8      14
 
 
39. Martin Luther King Day is January 17. Do you think there has been significant progress toward Martin Luther King's dream of racial equality, or don't you think so?
                     Tot    Rep    Dem    Ind    Men    Wom    Wht    Blk    His
 
Yes/ significant
 progress            78     80     81     78     79     77     80     71     76
No/ no progress      17     16     15     16     15     18     15     26     17
DK/NA                 5      4      4      6      5      5      5      3      7
 
                     AGE IN YRS.......    INCOME.............  POL PHIL.........
                     18-34  35-54  55+    <50    50-100 >100K  Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes/ significant
 progress            80     80     75     75     83     84     81     79     78
No/ no progress      14     16     19     19     13     11     15     16     18
DK/NA                 6      3      6      6      3      4      3      5      4
 
                                   WHITE.............
                     NoColl Coll   BrnAgn
                     Degree Degree Evngl  Prot   Cath
 
Yes/ significant
 progress            75     86     81     79     80
No/ no progress      19     12     15     16     16
DK/NA                 6      3      4      5      4
 
 
42. Next we have some questions about the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona, where six people were killed and 13 others wounded including U.S. Representative Gabrielle Gifford. How much have you heard or read about the shootings in Arizona?
                     Tot    Lib    Mod    Con
 
A lot                59     68     54     60
Some                 26     19     30     26
Not much             11      6     11     11
Nothing at all        4      7      4      2
DK/NA                 -      -      -      -
 
 
43. What do you think is the main reason for the Arizona shooting; failure of the mental health system, lax gun control laws, overheated political rhetoric, or do you think this is a situation that could not have been prevented?
                     Tot    Lib    Mod    Con
 
Mental health system 23     13     20     31
Gun control laws      9     13     11      6
Political rhetoric   15     21     14     11
Cld'nt have been
 prevented?          40     32     42     42
DK/NA                14     20     14     10
 
 
44. Do you think heated political rhetoric drives unstable people to commit violence or don't you think so?
                     Tot    Lib    Mod    Con
 
Yes, think so        52     73     51     43
No, don't think so   41     15     44     50
DK/NA                 7     11      5      7
 
 
45. Who do you think is more responsible for using heated political rhetoric, liberals or conservatives?
                     Tot    Lib    Mod    Con
 
Liberals             36      8     31     57
Conservatives        32     71     36      9
DK/NA                32     21     33     34
 
 
46. Compared to the days of Martin Luther King Jr., do you think the United States is a safer place for public figures today, less safe, or about as safe?
                     Tot    Lib    Mod    Con
 
Safer                31     23     38     28
Less safe            21     29     22     17
About as safe        45     48     36     52
DK/NA                 3      1      4      3