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. cwiz

    I would love to see related demographics in this poll.

    July 22, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  2. Newspaper boy

    Zimmerman was not a watchman. He was an unqualified vigilant. With a gun. This verdict justifies his action.

    July 22, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC


    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
    GZ cannot explain it, either. GZ cannot account for two of the four minutes that transpired between the "are you following" call and the final call with the gun shot. I have a better question. GZ demonstrated in his video, "I pulled my gun out and shot him." He pulled it from behind his hip.

    How could GZ pull his gun out and shoot like that when his supposedly laying flat on his back? Shouldn't his elbow have hit the ground, blocking him from reaching behind his hip like that?

    July 22, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    And if the MSM started focusing its reporting on the FACT that Florida's (and other states') stand your ground laws are repeatedly allowing drug dealers and gang members to get away with murder, frustrated prosecution efforts of violent crimes by repeat offenders living a "lifestyle" you just know that the conservatives would consider grounds for execution without trial and that 70% of the people (at least in FL's case) who have defended with stand your ground have succeeded (and you just know who conservatives believe are the most frequent people to "need" it)...then guess what we'd be hearing about stand your ground laws from the Teatrolls. Guess.

    BTW, in FL, you're better off shooting black people. 73% who claimed stand your ground when shooting a black person got off scott-free...the number is only 59% if you shoot a white person.

    July 22, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. bible thumper

    Justice is defines as "the administering of deserved punishment or reward".
    Justice was servered in the is trial. Treyvon had a fair trial. The jury was picked by both prosecution and defense. the state presented it's reasons why they felt Zimmerman should go to jail and did not do a good job. There were ton's of holes in the case and their best witnesses were not convincing. THe jury made a decision based on the facts and evidence presented and felt Zimmerman did not deserve punishment. Deal with it.

    THe protesters crying about this case are the real racists. A fair trial for Treyvon in their eyes would be an all black jury made up of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and other NAACP members.

    For these protestors to believe the judge, all 6 jury memebers, the state prosecutors and the entire police dept. is racists just shows ignorance and prejudice on their part.

    With that being said, the truth about some of the circumstances of this case are still up for debate, However, when one side is color blind and only wants to see what they want to see based on race, an intelligent debate cannot be had.

    July 22, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Loren

    The verdict was delivered in the context of the law of the State of Florida and it seems that public sentiment would like that law to be different, which it isn't.

    What is interesting about this case is how the press has cast Trayvon Martin as an innocent and has tried to cast George Zimmerman as a white racist, none of which is true. Has anyone seen a picture of Mr. Martin more recent than the eighth grade picture that was featured prominently? This has been posed by the press as an adult against a teenager, but Mr. Martin was taller and bigger than Mr. ZImmerman. Or has the press reported Mr. Martin's scrapes with the law in any detail or his other questionable behavior?

    While the press might argue that Mr. Martin's past behavior was irrelevant, the law does not look at the event in isolation. Those who doubt the correctness of the verdict are assuming that someone with a gun is inherently in the wrong, but the fact that one person has a concealed weapon is not going to deter an aggressor, and Mr. Martin's past behavior suggests that he just as likely could have been the aggressor. Does it justify his death? No, but it explains how a jury could find a not guilty verdict.

    July 22, 2013 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  7. duke

    The country is only has divided as the media wants them to be. This case had NOTHING to do with race, guns, or Stand Your Ground.

    This case was about a black wanna be gansta who started to beat down the wrong guy.

    July 22, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  8. gno

    I had a talk with my son about this case,my son is 16. I asked him if he was walking in our community {which is gated like the one in Sanford} and someone asked him the questions that Zimmerman asked Trayvon, my son would have told him he was going home and that he lived in the community and that may have been the end of it. TM had the attitude from living in a neighborhood that is full of violence, that has no respect for elders and his answers and actions caused him to die. I see many situations on the news that I say to myself if only that person had a gun they may still be alive
    its horrible that he died but that's what happens when you attack a man with a gun many many times the other person doesn't have a weapon and they get beat up or killed. since trayvon was a minor he probably would have gotten off for the beaten he gave Zimmerman

    July 22, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    In FL, you're better off shooting black people. 73% of the people who claim stand your ground after shooting a black person get off scott-free. If you shoot a white person, though, your chances are only 59%.

    July 22, 2013 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. watchmacallit

    any nobody care to ask why the asian and latino communities were not surveyed for their opinions?

    July 22, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Michael

    Hmm...seeing that they only make up 12% of the's not just 'the blacks', as the bigots say, that disagree with the verdict...

    July 22, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Woman In California - Boycott Florida

    Kudos to Ms. Lauren for keeping Juror B37 from her million dollar book deal off the death of Trayvon Martin. She can now keep her ignorant racist views to herself. This is the way to get results. Hit these people in the pocket.

    If the people in Texas and N.C. really want to get the laws changed, they should stop protesting and start hitting the state financially by NOT SHOPPING. Sure some jobs will be lost, but not for long as these states will be FORCED to revisit the laws and change them. Real change requires real sacrifice and they must decide just how much they really want it.

    July 22, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. just sayin

    i watched the trial, i have examined all of the eividence photos, i examined a map of the area with the key points marked, i listened to zimmermans reenactment with the police (before he had a lawyer!). the correct verdict was rendered with out a doubt.

    i would strongly advise everybody to examine a map layout of the area. the distance bewteen martin's destination and the point of the assault could have been travelled in far less than 4 minutes. the path where the assault occurred lead to the back of the location where martin was staying. martin was always ahead of zimmerman and the only way he could have ended up in zimmermans face was if he made that happen by hiding and/or doubling back.

    martin knew he was being watched because he was on the phone with his friend. if he truly felt afraid, he would have called 911 instead of talking to his friend. or he could have easily run to his destination. an out of shape zimmerman could never have caught him.

    July 22, 2013 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    "Mr. Martin's past behavior suggests that he just as likely could have been the aggressor"

    The evidence showed that GZ stalked the kid, followed him around in his car and on foot, and then instigated their confrontation by approaching him at night while he was minding his own business and walking home. THAT is aggressive behavior. GZ was the aggressor in this situation for those reasons alone. NONE of this would have happened if he didn't have daydreams about being Batman and minded his own god-mn business instead of accosting others on the street who were minding their own business. NONE OF IT. He started it and there's no way around that whatsoever.

    July 22, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. Whitehispanicphobia

    George Zimmerman helped get a family out of an overturned truck?

    Impossible!!! White-Hispanics probably overturned the truck.

    July 22, 2013 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "TM had the attitude from living in a neighborhood that is full of violence, that has no respect for elders and his answers and actions caused him to die. "

    That's called profiling. Thank you for illustrating our point.

    July 22, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. Mentallect

    Generational divide. Younger, less racist people thought Zimmerman was guilty.

    July 22, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. John

    So according to all the protesters and liberal media, if a woman is getting raped, she has no right to defend herself.
    Good to know.
    Yes, it is the exact same thing. GZ asked the unknown TM what he was doing. TM attacked him.
    Also, why isn't anyone protesting the black guy that chopped up 3 black women? Is this acceptable for black men to do? It must be. I wonder if that could have been Obama?

    July 22, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  19. Terrance James

    "So not only did George Zimmerman tutor black youths, take a black women to the Prom, helped protect his neighborhood from potential robberies, campaigned and voted for Obama, protested a White Police lieutenant who beat a black homeless man. (He even went to black churches and handed out flyers asking the black members to come to a town hall meeting and stand beside him as he fought to get the Police Lieutenant held accountable for helping cover up the crime his son had committed.) The “Wanna-be cop” now comes out of hiding to help rescue a black family trapped in an SUV."

    If Zimmerman is so racist...why, then, did he take a black woman to the Prom. some things just don't add up here...who is bitter racist, but takes a black woman to the Prom. That doesn't happen that often.

    Zimmerman has a long history of helping the African American community. One can't help but get the feeling that CNN is distorting the Facts on this story to a Large extend. Come on, bloodshed isn't worth Ratings

    July 22, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  20. Marie MD

    The killer might not be dead but his life is over. He will NEVER be able to walk down any street as a "free" man because people will recognize him and will question him or say something to him. Even if they agree with the verdict he will start discussions wherever he goes. Sort of like profiling a young black teenager wearing a hoodie.
    I guess his daddy being a judge is not going to be able to help him this time around. Getting away with assaulting a police officer and domestic violence ( for those who think gm is a choir boy with a halo) were tiny little drops. He stepped into a tsunami and will drown in it!
    Maybe he can dump his wfe and marry another Florida killer who got away with murder, casey anthony.
    Florida IS the gun shine state after all.

    July 22, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  21. Jack Calif

    It's interesting that the only story told at the trial was GZ's, yet he didn't even testify. If the defense can stand behind GZ's story, then how can it be told if he doesn't tell it himself? It's ridiculous that the killer can get away with his version, yet the dead person can't even tell his story. GZ's story shouldn't have been presented, if he couldn't tell it himself.

    July 22, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Treyvon had a fair trial. "

    Thank you for illustrating the gross misconception that most supporters of this verdict are operating under: that TM was the one on trial.

    July 22, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  23. dwight

    Zimmerman might have started the ball rolling, but he didn't create the situation any more than if he was standing outside of his car when Trayvon walked through the neighborhood. GZ didn't stand his ground since he was being prssed into it. All of the evidence points to this. broken nose, bleeding on back of head, grass stains on back of jacket, etc. There is more proof for Trayvon's attack, then there is for Zimmerman's following. I mean if we can't believe Zimmerman's account of Trayvon's attack, then why should we believe that he followed Trayvon by his account. HE was the only witness to either accounts and had no reason to lie about either of them.
    This whole mob things is based on "Friday Night Lights psychosis" where the only outcome that is acceptable is that your team is not beat and the other team loses, even if that is what happens. The facts don't matter, it is about team pride. This is prevalent in South Texas football and obviously black leaders thought process.

    July 22, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "So according to all the protesters and liberal media, if a woman is getting raped, she has no right to defend herself.
    Good to know.
    Yes, it is the exact same thing. GZ asked the unknown TM what he was doing. TM attacked him.
    Also, why isn't anyone protesting the black guy that chopped up 3 black women? Is this acceptable for black men to do? It must be. I wonder if that could have been Obama?"

    Thank you for showing just how deeply racism and sexism are interconnected in the conservative mind.

    July 22, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  25. Athur

    Something nobody has answered for me yet, exactly how many times should you have to allow someone to slam your head into the concrete before it becomes self defense? Cause Tbong coulda slammed Z's head into the concrete once then walked away good. Thug woulda got away with some street cred and Z wouldn't have been shooting. Also DEAR MORONS THERE WAS NO STAND YOUR GROUND, anybody says so is an IDIOT it was IMPOSSIBLE for him to retreat laying on his BACK. And Obama coulda been Traybong? T lgrew up with his rich white grandparents in Hawaii eh? Whatever...P.S. Long term thc causes paranoid ideation, fear of harm, and agressive acting out...tadahhhh!

    July 22, 2013 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
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