Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Support Affirmative Action Programs

Seven-in-ten Americans now say they favor “affirmative action programs to help blacks, women and other minorities get better jobs and education,” a 12-point increase since 1995, with support increasing among most demographic and political groups; but the number favoring “preferential treatment” for minorities, 34%, is no higher than in the early 1990s. African Americans, who overwhelmingly favored such programs 12 years ago, continue to do so (94% in 1995, 93% today). By comparison, nearly two-thirds of whites (65%) now support affirmative action programs, compared with 53% in 1995. White college graduates — and whites who attended college but have not graduated — are much more supportive of affirmative action than they were in the mid-1990s. In addition, the number of white independents who favor affirmative action programs has increased by 15 points since 1995. More white independents than white Republicans now support such programs (by 62%- 56%); in 1995, identical percentages of the two groups backed these programs (47% each). Despite this shift, however, most Americans (62%) disagree with this statement: “We should make every possible effort to improve the position of blacks and other minorities, even if means giving them preferential treatment.” Even half of those who favor affirmative action programs dissent from the idea that minorities should be given preferential treatment. The number supporting preferences has increased since 2002, from 24% to 34%. Even so, the percentage favoring preferences is no higher than it was in 1993.Read More