Fox News Poll

Fox News Poll: Voters oppose prosecuting Zimmerman on civil rights charges

A just-released Fox News poll finds a huge racial divide over the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case.    

African Americans disagree with the verdict that Zimmerman was not guilty of murdering Martin by a wide 87-10 percent margin.  Among whites, a 56-percent majority agrees with the Florida jury’s finding, while 31 percent disagree.  

Blacks are nearly four times as likely as whites to think Martin’s race was the single most important factor in Zimmerman’s decision to follow him (54 vs. 14 percent).

And by 77-22 percent, most African Americans want the federal government to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman.  Those numbers are nearly reversed among whites: 20 percent think the Justice Department should try to prosecute Zimmerman, while 74 percent say it shouldn’t.  

Ten percent of blacks have a favorable view of Zimmerman, 74 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 15 percent are unable to rate him.  Three times as many whites have a favorable view of Zimmerman (30 percent), while 39 percent have an unfavorable view and 30 percent have no opinion or have never heard of him.

Martin was African American.  Zimmerman is Hispanic.

The new poll finds most people (80 percent) have been following the Zimmerman trial at least somewhat closely, including 86 percent of blacks and 80 percent of whites.

Overall, 49 percent of voters agree with the Florida jury’s not-guilty verdict, while 40 percent disagree and 12 percent have no opinion.  In addition, a 66-percent majority opposes the government trying to prosecute Zimmerman on federal civil rights charges.  That’s more than twice the 28 percent who support federal charges.  

About half of voters think Martin’s race was at least somewhat of a factor in Zimmerman’s decision to follow him on that fateful day. Nineteen percent think race was “the single most important factor,” and another 34 percent say race was “one of several important factors.”  

Just over a third of those saying they agree with the not-guilty verdict believe that race was an important factor in Zimmerman’s actions (36 percent).  

There’s also a gender gap over the trial: Men are more likely than women (55 vs. 43 percent) and dads are more likely than moms (54 vs. 41 percent) to agree with the verdict.

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 1,017 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from July 21 to July 23.  The full poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is 3.5 points for the subgroup of white respondents and 9 points among African Americans.