On June 23, the Supreme Court decided Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin in a close 4-3 ruling upholding the university’s affirmative action program. Affirmative action is not a subject the major pollsters examine on a regular basis, and they have not asked any questions about it in 2016. While the dearth of recent surveys limits our ability to understand the public’s current attitudes toward affirmative action, the available historical data provide some insights into consistencies and shifts in public opinion on the topic. In this report, we present a compilation of questions asked by pollsters over the years about affirmative action generally and about affirmative action in college admissions.
- Americans generally support affirmative action in employment and education, but oppose preferential treatment.
- Non-white Americans are more likely to support affirmative action than white Americans.
- In surveys that ask about affirmative action for different groups, support is consistently higher for affirmative action programs for women than for affirmative action programs for minorities.
- Americans seem to favor increasing diversity in colleges, but not preferences in admissions based on race or ethnicity.
- Most people say affirmative action has not affected them personally.