Support for Affirmative Action at Record Low

Support for race-based affirmative action is at an all-time low.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found only 45% of Americans feel affirmative action programs are still needed, while 45% believe such programs should end. In 1991, a record 61% of Americans were in favor of affirmative action programs. 

The poll found nearly six in 10 whites opposed affirmative action while eight in 10 blacks and six in 10 Hispanics supported it. Further, 67% of Democrats were in favor while only 22% of Republicans and 17% of Tea Party supporters were in support. In addition, only 39% of independents favored affirmative action.

“Right now, I feel like it’s reverse discrimination,” a white, 69-year-old retired teacher from Rhode Island told the pollsters. “I did support it at first, but, gradually, because of this reverse discrimination it’s gone too far.”

A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the University of Texas's "Top Ten Percent Plan" is expected as early as Thursday. The white plaintiff in that case, Abigail Fisher, alleged she was denied admission while minority students with similar or lesser scores were admitted in violation of her right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. 

Richard Kahlenberg, a senior fellow at The Century Foundation, noted that the there was more support for income-based affirmative action than race-based affirmative action. The poll was conducted May 30-June 2, and the margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.


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