June 9th, 2014
10:00 PM ET
2 months ago

Majority of African-Americans now say Simpson was guilty

CNN special report – O.J.'s wild ride: 20 years after the chase, Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST

Washington (CNN) - Twenty years after the start of the O.J. Simpson murder case, attitudes towards Simpson and towards race relations in the country have dramatically changed, according to a new national poll.

Monday night's release of the CNN/ORC International survey comes just a few days before 20th anniversary of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, the former football star and actor's ex-wife, and of Ronald Goldman. The case against Simpson and the ensuing more than eight-month-long criminal trial, dubbed the "trial of the century," engrossed the nation. Simpson was eventually acquitted.

Read the full CNN/ORC International survey results

According to CNN polling in 1994, a large majority of whites thought Simpson was guilty, but six in ten African-Americans believed that the charges against Simpson were not true, a belief that persisted throughout the murder trial and its aftermath.

Twenty years later, the new CNN/ORC poll indicates there has been a turnaround in attitudes towards the former football star, with a majority of blacks (53%) now saying that the murder charges against Simpson were true. The ten percentage point margin between those who said the charges against Simpson were true and those who said they were not true was within the survey’s sampling error for African-Americans.

A CNN/ORC poll conducted in 2007 also found that a majority of black respondents thought Simpson was guilty. There were no CNN surveys of African-American opinions on the Simpson case from the end of 1995 until 2007.

"The belief among whites that Simpson was guilty has grown even more, with nearly nine in ten whites saying the murder charges were true," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The percentage of all Americans who say the murder charges against Simpson were true jumped from 66% in 1994 to 83% now.

Five surprising facts about O.J. Simpson's slow-speed chase

Attitudes on race relations in the U.S. have also changed since Simpson's murder case gripped the nation.

In 1994, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that less than half the country - and only 44% of blacks - thought that race relations in the United States were in very good or fairly good shape. Now those numbers are more optimistic. According to the CNN survey, the percentage of blacks who say that race relations are good has increased 10 percentage points, to 54%. Overall, nearly two thirds of all Americans now say that race relations are good.

The CNN poll was conducted May 2-4 and May 29-June 1 by ORC International, with 2,011 adult Americans, including 1,549 whites and 143 blacks, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. CryBabies

    Be careful America. Your words could very well be missinterpreted.

    June 9, 2014 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  2. The Elephant in the Room

    Ok that`s interesting and all but I wonder if the majority of white people have come to accept and are able to admit that the police sought to manipulate the evidence, specifically the blood evidence. in Simpson`s home [you know, the one with the WHITE carpet everywhere]. I have real problems with the case against Simpson and doubt an impartial jury could find him guilty.

    June 9, 2014 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    He's absolutely guilty of what he is currently in jail for. I still have another theory about the murders.

    June 9, 2014 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  4. CALIFORNIA

    So were their actions racist then or racist now? You decide.

    June 10, 2014 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  5. Thomas

    The OJ Simpson court case was as much to do about race as it was about male arrogance towards woman , sexual harassment , in OJ's case murder.

    Now ask African Americans what they think about Clarence Thomas ?

    More Americans have a deeper respect for Anita Hill .

    Honesty , integrity and courage will always prevail .

    June 10, 2014 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  6. Thomas

    Now ask African Americans what they think about Clarence Thomas ?

    More Americans have a deeper respect for Anita Hill .

    Honesty , integrity and courage will always prevail .

    June 10, 2014 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  7. ghost

    Polls are not to be trusted, entirely. A lot of Blacks felt he was guilty but hoped he would receive a little of the same treatment as other high profile white men. He did! Then he got stupid, again! This time trying to get back something that was no longer his. "he was trying to get something back that was stolen from him and give to the Goldmen's. YEAH. RIGHT! If he gets out before he is in a pine box I for one will be very surprised. Sleep well O. J. Orange Juice is gooddddddddd.......

    June 10, 2014 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  8. @RI_Roger

    #WhoCares_Majority of African-Americans now say Simpson was guilty

    June 10, 2014 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  9. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I don't. If he was guilty there was no reason to plant evidence. Black people need to learn their history. Google Peonism. It was a practice started right after slavery ended. Whites would make up charges on blacks, including men, women and children. They would then be bought by former slave owners and forced to work for free. They were routinely beaten and killed. This went on until around WW II. They eventually found out 90% of them were innocent. Whites just wanted that free labor. $lavery by another name. So sad.

    June 10, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  10. smith

    The police in the O. J. case made so many mistakes it would have been hard to find the man guilty. The defense was on point the DA wasn`t. However, when your on the run with a gun, money, a disguise, and a suicide note that looks pretty bad. OJ, M. Jackson, Robert Blake, and etc proved that money talks.

    June 10, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  11. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    We all knew he was guilty at the time of the verdict. This isn't some new revelation.

    June 10, 2014 07:59 am at 7:59 am |