A new Gallup poll appears to show that the wording of poll questions can have a major impact on the results. The poll asked whether race should be considered in evaluating students for admission to colleges. Only 28 percent of respondents said that race should be considered. If we break the results down by race, only 22 percent of Whites believed race should be considered and less than half of all Blacks said race should be a factor.
But in the same poll, respondents were asked if they favored affirmative action programs for racial minorities. Some 58 percent of all adults said they supported affirmative action. And a slight majority of Whites said they supported such programs. More than three-quarters of Blacks said they supported affirmative action programs.
The poll also asked if the federal government should play a role in trying to improve the social and economic position of Blacks and other minority groups. More than three quarters of all respondents, and more than two thirds of White respondents, said the government should play a role.
The following news headlines appeared after the poll’s release:
- Most Americans Support Affirmative Action
- Most Reject Using Race in College Admissions
- Majority of Americans Oppose Affirmative Action in College Admission
- Affirmative Action Is Popular With College, Unpopular With Americans
The seemingly conflicting results on the these poll questions leads one to the conclusion that the content of the questions can have a major impact on the results. One wonders what the results would have been if the college question was worded as follows:
Do you support efforts by college and university admissions offices to increase the diversity of their student bodies?