Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds
July 22nd, 2013
01:37 PM ET
9 months 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. jjj

    Why is the talk about whites versus black? Zimmerman is hispanic? President Obama has as much in common with Zimmerman than with Martin. Both President Obama and Zimmerman have one white parent, both are minorities. Why has this become a white / black issue? This is a minotiry vs. minority issue which has become a white / black issue?

    July 22, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. RT Colorado

    Maybe I just missed it, but the poll apparently didn't ask how many didn't care one way or another. Also, the poll did not (apparently) ask how many were tired of hearing about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. Of course there those of the cynical nature who might ask, why all of this attention for one young man when street violence in Chicago is killing a dozen per week with barely more than a one sentence mention (if any) in the national media.

    July 22, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Hmmm...considering that we only make up 12% of population...it's not just 'the blacks' that don't like the verdict...

    July 22, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Jason

    Before the trial I was very much against Zimmerman. What with all of the press coverage but I decided to watch the trial and over the course of the arguments I found that I was swayed to say that I believe that he was innocent, well at least not guilty of what he was charged with. FTR: I am a 38yo, married, white man with no racial bias that I have ever encountered.

    July 22, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  5. Bill

    If there is a remaining institutional discrimination against blacks, it is done through the courts. No doubt, blacks get stiffer sentences than whites when convicted–particularly with regard to drug crimes. Suprisingly, even black judges are more likely to be harder in sentencing of black males. While in most cases this is not overt racism (I doubt many of the judges even are aware they are doing it), it is a situation that must change quickly. No doubt, some of it is also due to the fact that due to lack of cash, they do not always have the ideal legal representation. Education of judges, as well as changes to drug laws could make an immediate impact. Ironically, however, I do not feel this case really represents this issue.

    July 22, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    The issue here, is that black America is being irrational. A 17 yr. old is not a "kid". That is their entire argument, and it is simply a lie. 17 yr. old blacks commit more than 10% higher rate of violent crimes, than adult blacks do. That is a statistical fact.

    The black community has to stop believing in a fantasy, and recognize the truth.

    July 22, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. doasisay

    Well it is as I thought. We are divided along racial and political lines in America. A house divided can't stand. Either we learn to get along or we will all suffer in the end. "You can't say you love God who you have not seen and hate your brother that you see everyday." Simple principle. If we could just look at one another as humans rather than black, white, gay, straight, republican, democrat; we'd see we all want the same things in the end. We all want to be treated fairly, we all want love and to be appreciated and happy. We all want to live long and healthy lives, enjoy our families, eat a good meal, have good sex and get a good night's rest. It is really that simple.

    July 22, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. TruthSeeker

    Get Over It America. Respect the Verdict and Rule of Law and Move on. CNN stop exploiting the Verdict and Racism.

    July 22, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. Rudy NYC

    I say let's flip the entire scenario. Let's send a white kid to a middle class, black neighborhood to visit a relative. Let's have a black neighborhood watchman, who is on friendly terms with the local police, encounter the teen and kills him. Let's have four black cops show up, and take the black guy down to the station where they take a written and videotaped deposition. Once that is done, let's not charge the guy but send him on his merry way. Home.

    A few days later, the story comes to national attention and the black police department says they cannot charge the shooter. You have a dead teen and no charges. Under the Florida law, the shooter should have been charged or faced a SYG hearing. Neither event took place. Instead, they had simply let the shooter go and conducted a substandard investigation.

    After 45 days of national uproar in the white community, the shooter is finally arrested. The shooter declines to have a SYG hearing because he knows that he cannot prove his story. His story is hearsay, not backed up by unimpeachable forensic evidence. If he could prove it, he would taken that route in a heartbeat.

    A trial is conducted, but now the black guy's story is unimpeachable fact. He no longer needs to prove his story. The state needs to disprove it, and faces the same lack of unimpeachable facts that the shooter did when he considered a SYG hearing.

    The jury is given instructions about SYG, despite the fact that SYG was not presented in the case. The verdict comes in as "not guilty" and the white community cannot understand how justice could have failed so badly. It is as if a SYG hearing was conducted, except in reverse. The burden of proof was shifted 180 degrees. I

    t from proving the story to be true, to proving how the story could be false. The community is outraged at this loophole. Calls go out to change the SYG law. The black community refuses, saying they like the way the law works, just as it is.

    July 22, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. R. Charles

    Ridiculous and just another sign of the apocalypse here in the US. Just keep on dividing us Al and Jesse and Barry O. Cynical ploy to win votes for the midterm election. Sickening.

    July 22, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  11. nofool

    Leaving aside fine black people who simply wish to live and co-exist as pleasantly as possible with whites, I feel that the most vociferous protesters yelling for justice are hypocrites. Justice is the last thing they want. What they want, in their capacity of professional victims and chronic hell-raisers is total impunity for any crime they care to commit.. especially looting. They must have been licking their chops when the Zimmerman case occured for it gave them a pretext to try to bring back the days of the Rodney King riots. What they want is available right now in France, a nation whose Minister of Justice is a black woman named Christiane Taubira, whose inspiration is 100% Revenge against whites. There, the worst recidivists routinely receive slaps on the wrist while those who complain about her viciousness are severely punished. It is a horrible state of affairs, reminiscent of the Great Revolution and of the guillotine except that now, those being "punished" and financially bled to death are the whites. The American media are doing their best to keep those facts from the American public. They know that forewarned people are not easy to manipulate. Americans might understand that they are next on the sinister "to do list." Media pundits therefore choose to "better know the truth in order to better hide it."

    July 22, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  12. sonny chapman

    Based on past, present & future degradation of young black men in America, the verdict sucks. Based on the facts of the case & if the jury felt that TM was bashing GZ's head on the sidewalk, the verdict was proper, given the Stand Your Ground & NRA rhetoric that heightens every confrontation into a shootout.

    July 22, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  13. drpprmt

    Zimmerman should have listened to the cops and stayed in his car. He was over zealous. If I was being followed by Zimmerman ( and I am only 5 ft 5), I would have gouged his eyes out, bloodied his nose and hit him in places where it would really hurt. Of course Trevyon was defending himself. He was younger, stronger and was in fear of his life. Zimmerman had no business doing a cop's job. He is a wanna be cop.

    July 22, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  14. maximus609

    Stop telling me what Zimmerman did since he got off scott free for taking the life of Trayvon. I bet you guys are gonna give him a medal for "Saving the lives" of some people who supposedly were trapped inside an overturned suv. This guy gets the same gun back and everything. He gets treated like a celb for murder. You guys are full of BS, I bet you won't say where he was spotted.

    July 22, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Lyn

    Zimmerman should not have been charged in the first place!

    July 22, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. JustAO

    In a free society, we now have a law that if you actually shoot and kill someone who can't testify against you in court, you go home with an acquittal; but if victim can testify against you shooting at them, you get 20 years.

    Does this seem ok in our American justice system and society? Seriously!

    July 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Rick

    And none of this matters, because those polled didn't have access to all the evidence and weren't part of the jury; the only ones that matter were the six women who acquitted him. No one knows what really happened that night except George Zimmerman, and everything he's said was supported by the evidence. Enough so that they couldn't even pin manslaughter on him.

    July 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  18. Jim

    America divided on Zimmerman decision.
    Well yea I guess.

    99.99 percent in favor of rule of law
    00.01 percent in favor of mob rule

    I guess you could call that divided

    July 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  19. dwight

    Sunflower,
    If you get attacked for watching someone I wouldn't bother with going through the legal system either. Unless of course you want justice.
    It is hard to stand your ground when your head is being ground into the cement by someone whaling on you. I guess GZ should have retreated into his grave in response.

    July 22, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  20. Thomas

    Way to many Guns !

    The Great American Condition .

    July 22, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. Matt

    Initially I thought that it sounded like Zimmerman had committed an awful crime, but as I considered the actual evidence being provided to a jury, my opinion quickly changed, to the place where it is now, which is that Zimmerman was attacked by this young man and Trayvon was banging his head on the concrete in an attempt to murder him. Any many with a gun would use deadly force if his head was being slammed into the concrete,

    July 22, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  22. CA_LawStudent

    If you disapprove of the verdict, then I suggest you go back to school and get an education and learn how our judicial system works.

    July 22, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  23. the facts and nothing but the facts

    FACT 1: Blacks make up 13% of the population.

    FACT 2: Blacks commit 50% of the murder in this country.

    FACT 3: Blacks murder 75% of the balcks murdered in this country.

    It is clear this country has a major problem with black violence but is unwilling to admit it or address it because I guess that would be racist. One can only imagine what the other stats are, for assault, for robbery, burglary, etc.

    Is it any wonder why people lock their doors and clutch their purses???

    July 22, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Evervigilant

    Doesn't really matter the verdict will stand.

    July 22, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. California Gary

    A question for you sly........how come those that were upset by the OJ verdict are in agreement with this one? It goes both ways my friend.

    July 22, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
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