Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds
July 22nd, 2013
01:37 PM ET
1 year ago

Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds

(CNN) – The not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has Americans divided, with equal numbers saying they approve or disapprove of the verdict, according to a poll released Monday.

The Washington Post/ABC News survey, which showed 41% of Americans approving and 41% disapproving of the jury's ruling, also showed sharp division among Americans in their views of the verdict. For example, 86% of African-Americans disapproved of the "not guilty" finding, while 51% of whites approved.

That closely aligned with a Pew Research Center survey released Monday, which showed 86% of African-Americans disagreeing with the verdict.

In the Washington Post/ABC poll, women - 48% of whom disapproved of the verdict - were more likely than men to hold that sentiment. And younger people also disapproved at higher levels: 50% of those aged 18-39 said they disapproved, while 30% of people over 65 felt the same way.

Sixty-two percent of Democrats disapproved of Zimmerman's acquittal, while 65% of Republicans approved.

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in February 2012 in what he said was an act of self-defense. His trial drew widespread attention from the nation, much of it focused on the issue of race.

The Pew poll found 52% of respondents saying race was getting more attention in the Zimmerman case than it deserved, while 36% said it was raising important racial issues that need to be discussed.

On the question of whether blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the American justice system, Monday's ABC/Washington Post survey showed Americans were split: 45% said they did receive equal treatment, while 50% said they did not.

Asked whether federal civil rights charges should be brought against Zimmerman, 46% said they should not, while 39% thought he should be charged.

The U.S. Justice Department has an open investigation in Zimmerman's case, though Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken in the past about the difficulty in bringing hate crime charges in the case.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll was conducted by telephone July 18-21 with 1,002 adults, and the sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Pew’s survey was from 1,480 adults and was taken by telephone July 17-21. The sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


Filed under: Polls
soundoff (260 Responses)
  1. USA

    It doesnt matter what any of you think. The verdict is in.....NOT GUILTY!!!! Now pull up your big girl panties and deal with it!!

    July 22, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  2. ja

    become active, vote, we have allowed zealots to hold office across the board, civics 101 gov't for the people by the people

    July 22, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Pk duster

    What about the spanish mans civil rights

    July 22, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  4. California Gary

    I'm having trouble understanding those that approve of the verdict. Are you saying that anyone who is on the losing end of a fist fight, even one that they basically caused to happen through their actions, has the right to use lethal force to resolve it? Because someone pops you in the nose and knocks you on your backside, that gives you the right to end their life without suffering any legal consequences yourself? Is that really the kind of society we want to live in? I thought we had evolved from the days of the old West where everyone packed heat and used it freely.

    July 22, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  5. Just_One

    You were expecting a poll to show a not divided America? Current events must not be your strong point.

    July 22, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  6. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    I support the stand your ground lay fully. But this was not about a man standing his ground. No, this was about a weak man with a gun who picked a fight with a sknny17yr old and got his butt kicked. So just like a coward he pulled his gun out and shot the kid in the heart. What a wimp!

    July 22, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. blakenaustin

    The far left and racist blacks on one side. And everyone else on the other side.

    July 22, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  8. rla

    So a white man gets to be profiled and blacks get to have a quota of convictions???? maybe we also have a limit on the number of blacks in prison- sort of affermative action???? BUT above all lets replace a justice system with a revenge system

    July 22, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. NotYoDaddy

    Other than race?

    Right about down party lines.

    Nothing to see her.

    Move along.

    July 22, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. ????

    This data is from the U.S. Department of Justice over the time period from 1976-2005:

    African- Americans were responsible for 93% of the murders of other African-Americans

    African-Americans represent 13% of the total U S. population but committed of over half of the murders.

    George Zimmerman is not the problem.

    July 22, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. ccrascal

    According to the 2010 census, blacks make up less than 15% of the population. But wonder what percent of the crimes they are convicted of committing? Anger will get them no where. They need education and to not pay attention to rabble rousers like Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the ilk, even those in Washington stir up racial relations. Hard work brings success, and that means education. Hope this minority will get an education so they can get jobs and get over this anger because they have so little.....

    July 22, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. frank thomas

    I am an older white man and I thorougly disagree with the verdict, what would have happened if Zimmerman had been black and trevon was a white boy, Zimmerman would have been in jail since day one and would have been convicted of murder one.

    July 22, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. MR_22

    This is an incomplete picture of the "true" response of Americans to the Zimmerman case, because they didn't apparently include a question about how much the respondent followed the case. I would bet my money that a high percentage of the people who actually followed the case and the evidence closely would say they agreed with the verdict. Those who don't know the facts are assuming too much and responding solely on emotion.

    July 22, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. scott

    Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds ? Not a chance. The majority of Americans are glad its over and believe that justice ran its due course. The majority of Americans believe Zimmerman was innocent and Martin was guilty of a crime. I and talking > than 80% of Americans believe Zimmerman was innocent. I also believe the the majority of Americans believe Martin was committing a crime against Zimmerman. The facts are the facts.

    July 22, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. sly

    Travon is the one who was justified to use 'Stand your ground'.

    Everyone in America knows Zimmerman was guilty, but our justice system allows regular Americans (i.e. not so smart) to serve on juries.

    Without a witness, we'll all know what happened, but the system worked, as there was no real strong evidence. Just a tragedy.

    One question though: How come the blacks and others protesting this finding didn't protest the OJ case?

    July 22, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    We dont need to change the "stand your ground law" Because its a very good law. But what we need to have a conversation about is this new breed of soft men like Zimmerman, i mean really you have a 30yr old man who cant get a skinny 17yr old kid off of him? what is this world coming too?

    July 22, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  17. nowayruserious!

    Divided? Only ones that don't agree with the verdict never watched the trial....

    July 22, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  18. Egor

    God bless the 16% of African Americans that respect the law of the land and understand the principles of this country. If this 16% was multiplying instead of the other 86% having 10 kids, this country would improve quickly!

    July 22, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  19. Nicole

    That sample size of 1000 is way too small to make an assumption. A sample size of 100, 000 would have been more sufficient as this is misleading statistics.

    July 22, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. bam

    only divided?
    The year long media conviction wouldnt do that would it?
    the Cee En Bee Cee 'doctoring' of the 911 call transcripts cutting and pasting things said to mean something totally different wouldnt do that would it?
    the only thing to do with race in the 911 transcripts was the Dispatcher asking if the person is White, Black or Hispanic. like Asians dont commit crimes... or them Pacific Islanders! OMG!

    July 22, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. mrshinyk

    Just out of curiosity, but why is CNN so invested in making a situation where a Latino shot an African American in Florida into some black/white thing?

    And if you're suddenly so concerned about the treatment of black folks by the justice system, why do you go to sleep on things like the cops who kicked in poor Kathryn Johnston's door, put 80 bullets in her, planted crack in the basement then waited until she bled out before calling the ambulance?

    That should have been an all-day every day story, not two guys fighting in the middle of the street and it escalates into a shooting. That type of thing isn't national news unless you go out of your way to make it national news by pretending one of the guys is a racist KKK member instead of a Latino wanna-be-cop.

    July 22, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. Sunflower2

    I've lost all faith in the U.S. judicial systems... for numerous reasons, but the Zimmerman case was the straw that broke the camels back.....

    July 22, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. congruence

    Racism is in the eye of E. Holder.

    July 22, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  24. telin' it like it is

    If you disapprove of the verdict you are ignorant of the law and/or ignorant of the facts of the case or a person with a racial agenda. It really is that simple. It was an open and closed case of self defense. The young black man should not have attacked the hispanic in the dark of night. He had plenty of time to make it home but instead he chose to attack and for that mistake, he paid with his life.

    July 22, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Texas

    Just because a lot of people don't agree with the ruling, doesn't mean the law was not followed.

    July 22, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
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