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. sly

    Some black guy will find Zimmerman, stalk him, chase him into a dark alley with a gun, kill him, and it will not be a crime. He would be just standing his ground if Zimmerman so much as raised his voice in anger.

    July 22, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  2. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    The Jury has spoken.

    July 22, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  3. David Marks

    TM was taller and athletic. GZ weighed 50 lbs more. His nose was broken, he was knocked down, and was likely being pummeled. We will never know how bad a beating GZ was going to get. We do know he was very afraid. Could he roll away and avoid more punches. Probably not – he was a weakling.

    July 22, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Eli

    I was not for sure about this case until the trial and they talked about the 4 minutes from the time that George Zimmerman said he had lost sight of Trayvon Martin and when this tragedy happened. In 4 minutes that young man (if he wanted too) could have been out of that neighborhood and safely home. So that leaves me believing he hid, waited and jumped out on George Zimmerman. I do not believe racism was involved in this case because we have not seen anything to prove or even make us think Zimmerman is a racist.

    July 22, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. John

    Can someone explain to me how TM started attacking GZ in the first place? Did GZ grab him? Did GZ pull his gun out?
    Why didn't TM run away?
    Those are 3 simple questions I have not heard nor read in the liberal, race-hating instigating media

    July 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. Say WHAT?

    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.

    It is pretty hard to talk, reason or do much when a criminal is hitting your head on the concrete and pummeling you MMA style as you lay on your back in a rainy dark alley way with no one comi ng to your aid after screaming as loud as you can, repeatedly. Martin should have thought twice before attacking. I guess he thought he was bigger than Zimmerman and could take him and he was right, except for the fact that Zimmerman was prepared to save his life from this near deadly assault. The facts of the situation say the correct person walked away with his life. The criminal did not.

    July 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  7. Pat

    That could have been me having to stand my ground against Trayvon Martin.

    July 22, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  8. Do your research

    It seems to me that according to the law, you can stalk someone, start an altercation and since you can't fight it's OK to kill the person because you are getting your ass beat. Everyone just discounted trevon Martin's friend he was on the phone with, simply because she was not educated or media savy. But she was not stupid! She speaks 3 languages and english is her second language.

    July 22, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  9. Naja

    With Zimmerman being tried in the state of Florida, I agree he's not guilty, because of the stand your ground law, but yes he would be guilty if he'd done this elsewhere This case doen'st affect me and I personally don't really care cause I don't live in Florida.

    July 22, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  10. hearditall

    My question, exactly, jjj.......The president considers himself "black", but has a white mother, and GZ is part hispanic. Guess President Obama's mindset is that of a "black" man. And I voted for him, so it's not like it's Republican picking on a Democrat.....If he wants us to see each other as "equal", color needs to be left out of his conversations. The media is doing a good job of multiplying and dividing.....and those that can jump on the bandwagon, are. They are using I believe the verdict was correct. Probably wasn't the best decision Zimmerman has made, but at the time, was he really thinking "I'm good.....I'll be protected by the "stand your ground" law. I seriously doubt it. Not that much time to maul that around before acting.

    July 22, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  11. Jonus Grumby

    A Hispanic man shoots a black teen and it's the fault of white people. Only in America.

    July 22, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. Chas

    "Americans divided over Zimmerman verdict, poll finds"
    ?? African Americans and regular Americans
    part of this countries problems is too many groups/cultures/whatever simply can't be Americans...

    July 22, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Ancient Texan

    Liberals just have a hard time believing the truth in the Zimmerman case. Maybe bias stands in their way?
    What truth. Zimmerman's story? Is that the truth you're talking about? Zimmerman's story is hearsay, not supported by any unimeachable forensic evidence. If his story were "the truth", then he would have asked for a SYG hearing, won it, and walked.

    July 22, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  14. KP2

    There was no blood Zimmerman on Travon's hands or his jacket and no scuffs, no scraps – so if he had been slamming Zim's head down on the concrete repeatdly don't you think there would have been some evidence of that?
    Zim obviously didn't want to testify because the defense could have questioned many aspects of his story that the original police department investigation did not.
    And does anyone really believe the fact that Zim's father was a judge had nothing to do with the Police initially just releasing him?

    Any yes.. Zim is part Latino – all of the liberal media did report that.
    Of course you would have to watch it to find out. If you just listen to the right wing you wouldn't know.

    July 22, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  15. Re California Gary

    @California Gary (again). You don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman's head was getting smashed into the ground. Only that there is the most minimal amount of evidence to create reasonable doubt. Zimmerman's statements plus the pictures that were taken that night were more than sufficient evidence to create reasonable doubt. That's the law.

    You need to learn the law and the apply the law. The verdict was correct under any application of the evidence that was before the Court. That's why he wasn't initially arrested, initially charged and the jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict.

    July 22, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Pat

    I hope that everyone say Charles Barkley speak on Erin Burnett's out front. He thought the verdict was the correct 1. So even if the George Zimmerman jury included Charles Barkley, or a black person who had similar views, George Zimmerman would have been acquitted.

    July 22, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  17. Tony

    jjj, it is a race issue because what happened to Trayvon Martin does not happen to any other group in America. If you are an unarmed teenager in America, another person will not get out of his car with a gun, follow you, lose sight of you, tell a police dispatcher on tape that he was following you, and, after being told by the police dispatcher not to follow you, go on to have a fight with you. No one will do that to you, unless you look like Trayvon Martin, a black unarmed teenager.

    July 22, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  18. Boomer in Mo

    The truth is we have only one side of the story and will never have the other one. The rest is just opinion. My opinion is GZ should have stayed in his car (our neighborhood watch does not allow the participants to carry a weapon) and both GZ and TM made stupid errors. TM ended up dead and GZ's life is ruined.

    July 22, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    Yes, of course, because a young Black man being where he belonged stalked by a wannabe hero who murdered him was wrong to defend himself from the sicko.
    That is NOT justice.

    July 22, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. Whitehispanicphobia

    We are now learning that it was actually White-Hispanics who bombed Pearl Harbor.

    July 22, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC


    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.
    Duh. Those people get arrested, tried and convicted for their crimes. There is no unimpeachable proof that GZ was attacked first. None. GZ created the situation that lead to the deadly altercation. Under Florida law, he has no right to "stand his ground", despite the fact that that is the exact instruction given the jury, that GZ did have a right stand his ground. He did not.

    July 22, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. Whitehispanicphobia

    John Wilkes Booth was really a White-Hispanic.

    July 22, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  23. Susan StoHelit

    Look at these results – not so polarizing as many think.

    Liberals and Conservatives are about 65% – which means 35% differ on the verdict – there's a political difference, but not a solid one (I'm one of the liberals who is in favor of the verdict). Likewise, papers would have you believe it's 100% of black people against the verdict – but it's 85% – not bad with the crazed propaganda out there.

    July 22, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Logic

    Just means 41% of the people polled need to be swatted upside the head with the Bill of Rights. We fought a war with England to make sure of these rights. When the mob rules, the rule of law goes out the window and this case is a prime example of why we NEED these rights. When a mob of people can co-opt the justice system and political hacks pull shenanigans to pander to the mob, we have truly lost our way. This trial should never have taken place. If you do not like how the police investigated, fine, change that, but the system is there to protect you from mob rule. Respect it.

    July 22, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Marie MD

    @naja, it should and will affect you because this NRA induced "law" is roaming all over the country.
    As far as the stand your ground not coming into place juror B37, who had already made up her mind before being chosen, spoke about it. She said that georgie boy overstepped his rights when he followed Trayvon.

    July 22, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
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