Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds
July 22nd, 2013
01:37 PM ET
7 years 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. Ancient Texan

    Liberals just have a hard time believing the truth in the Zimmerman case. Maybe bias stands in their way?

    July 22, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. James Wallace III

    Then: "Whether you believe OJ to be guilty or innocent, a jury has spoken and we must all respect the verdict."


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

    I'm sorry, did I miss the Poll? I wasn't polled and I'm sure many other 'representatives of America' weren't polled so these results are 4 hundred million times skewed.

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

    All those who disagree with the verdict are going to 'boycott' Florida? Thank you. Little Stevie Wonder not coming to Florida? Maybe all the rappers will take the cue and follow suit. In fact, maybe those who live here and disagree should move out of state. Michigan, perhaps. Detroit has plenty of inexpensive housing available.

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

    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.
    Yes, if you are getting your tail kicked by a "suspect", then you have the right to "stand your ground".
    Yes, if someone knocks you on your backsides, headbutts you, then you have the right to use lethal force with impunity.
    Yes, that is the exactly type of society that some people wish to live in.

    If you thought we had evolved from the Old West and living on the open range, before there were states and borders, then I've got bad news for you. That is exactly the lifestyle, no government, that some people yearn for. They want everyone to live like the way they did on the TV show, "The Waltons".

    July 22, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Anita

    The Main problem is CNN trying to turn it into a Racial issue, I guess.

    July 22, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. John

    Except Zimmerman isn't white. He's HISPANIC.
    Is it a crime to be Hispanic now?
    Also ignored by the liberal media – Trayvon's completely racist views. His GF testified to it. But hey, it is ok. Everyone thinks Zimmerman is white.

    July 22, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. jjay7

    We don't seem to discuss the real aspects of the race problem. By the time any person reaches adulthood we have all had many bad experiences with people of other races. For white people almost all threatening situations have involved blacks, for Blacks (I am guessing) it is facing constant unwarranted hate or suspicion. I don't pretend to know the answer, but we do not even talk about the real problems. I suspect half on both sides are hopelessly prejudiced. I do know for white people speaking a decent form of English is our most important clue as to who shares mainstream values and is therefor not a threat. The police are certainly a large part of the problem. In large cities we pay pay for top professionals and get dull witted thugs. One reason why people like Trayvon will not dial 911 to report being followed is that it will just add to their problems instead of solving them.

    July 22, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    You also have to remember that this is a Washington Post/ABC News poll. It's so easy to ask slanted questions

    July 22, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  10. Confused and wondering

    Interesting that the poll did NOT ask how people felt about gun rights. I don't really see race being as much an issue in this case as people who use a gun as a crutch to avoid common sense, diplomacy and just plain trying to get along. Not saying there aren't some good cases for the use of deadly force, but it needs to be the LAST resort, not the first one.

    July 22, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. Jam.Nat

    Guilty beyong a reasonable doubt is the standard. I thought that is what liberals believed in. Not anymore I guess. Now it's all about racial and revenge justice. The left has truly morfed into an activist ends justifies the means crowd where what they beleive is the truth and any other belief system is held in contempt. If you disagree with them, you are evil. That is what scares me about them.

    July 22, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  12. just sayin

    blacks, liberals and democrats want to repeal self defense and stand your ground laws and replace them with lay down and die laws. yes, that is what you will be expected to do when attacked by a black person becuase to fight back or to use deadly force is the act of a racist.

    now everybody shooting or killing a black assailant is going to have to prove to the dept. of justice that they have never uttered the n word or said bad things at anytime in their life, because then you are up for federal prosecution for hate crimes. that is what zimmerman is now being threatened with.

    welcome to the new liberal madness that makes the victim the criminal and the criminal the victim.

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

    @Matt........the "actual evidence" did not reflect that his head was being slammed into the concrete. His injuries to the back of his head were minor and non-life threatening........had his head been slammed into the concrete as he claimed, the damage would have been much worse and he probably would have lost consciousness......certainly wouldn't have been able to get up and walk around with no ill effects. You should have paid closer attention to the actual evidence.

    July 22, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Tampa Tim

    So Trayvon stalked Zimmerman, and with a cell phone in one hand, a bag of Skittles in his other concrete in another, he was able to subdue a person twice his weight? Sounds like a wingnut defense.

    July 22, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. dwight

    I watched the ch.2 News and most of the crime was black people against black people, most notabley one black man who has killed 3 black women and put them in plastic bags and yet there are marches against GZ who defended himself against being beaten up. I guess it is better to argue against a flea, then to tackle an elephant.

    July 22, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. California Gary

    @CA law student..........I think if you would spend a little time in the South, you would find the justice system works a little differently down there.

    July 22, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. Get Real

    Way to many Guns !
    The Great American Condition .

    More like way too many black criminals. Thankfully I have some Smith & Wesson protection and don't have to hope the police get there in time to save my life. My kids need their daddy to support them.

    July 22, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Future

    I would bet 80% of those disapproving of the trial verdict never watched the trial or could cite one piece of the main evidence the verdict was based on. They just dance to the race songs played by Al Sharpton , Jesse Jackson , Obama ,Holder, and dummy pro athletes or rappers. The poll has To have a base of a majority of intelligent people to be worthy of reading.

    July 22, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC

    Lyn wrote:

    Zimmerman should not have been charged in the first place!
    Seriously? You have a dead teenager. Once Zimmerman declined to have a SYG hearing, he had to be charged. The local police and prosecuters had no authority to decide his innocence of guilt. They had an obligation to charge GZ, but did not.

    July 22, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. Re California Gary

    California Gary, you should't have any trouble understanding anything. The standard is, would a reasonable person in the same position perceive an imminent deadly threat and that the only way to stop that threat is by using deadly force. The EVIDENCE that was presented to the jury was that Martin was on top (forensic bullet wound expert) of Zimmerman in a "ground and pound" position (eye witness) and that Martin was punching Zimmerman in the face and smashing his head into the concrete (pictures). This satisfies the legal standard for self-defense (not "Stand Your Ground" which was not involved in the trial) because a reasonable person would understand that you are defenseless in this position and having your head smashed into the ground would make you believe that you might die. Thus, you are justified in using deadly force. That's the law.

    July 22, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Tampa Tim

    The facts – do you think we should take away guns from blacks, and allow only whites to own them? I think your fact #2 is an opinion, thereby negating fact #3.

    July 22, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. smith

    The folks who are disappointed withe the verdict either didn`t watch the trial, are in denial of the facts, have an agenda, or do not understand the laws of Florida. Also, Zimmerman is not white, he is hispanic. Anybody who thinks he is white needs their eyes checked.

    July 22, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    America divided? Everyone I talk to approve of the verdict. Except for balcks, low information voters and democrats.

    July 22, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  24. Ken

    I am not ready to say I know what was in Mr. Zimmerman's heart when he pulled the trigger, I just wish he didn't do it as I am ready to say Mr. Zimmerman would not have died if he didn't. (and while Mr. Zimmerman is still alive, it looks like he will lose everything he has.) For those of you who want to keep fanning the blames I say put up what both Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman have before you go running your mouth (without any real cost to yourself or family).

    July 22, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. Seen

    What was the survey results amongst white hispanics?

    July 22, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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