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What Do Americans Think About Affirmative Action? It Depends on How You Ask

Most Americans support affirmative action for racial minorities as a broad concept, a new survey says. Yet a majority opposes the consideration of applicants’ race in college admissions.

Confusing? Not really. It’s all a matter of how specifically you pose the question.

As higher education awaits a federal judge’s ruling in a case challenging Harvard University’s race-conscious admissions policy, it’s a good time to ask what the public thinks of this contentious issue.

So let’s take a closer look. Sixty-one percent of Americans favor affirmative-action programs for minorities, according to a Gallup poll released on Wednesday. That record high was up from 54 percent in 2016. For the first time, a majority of white respondents (57 percent) supported affirmative action, an increase of nine percentage points; support among blacks and Hispanics has remained relatively steady, at 72 percent and 66 percent, respectively.