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Poll: Trayvon Martin case divides US by race, age, wealth, and politics

New polls show a distinct split in how Americans view the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Some groups, including blacks, women, and Democrats, are more likely to see race as a key factor.

Sevell Brown, director of the National Christian League of Councils, speaks at a rally for slain teen Trayvon Martin in Tallahassee, Fla., Wednesday. The date for the march was chosen to honor the 44th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Philip Sears/Reuters

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The Trayvon Martin case is dividing the country racially, generationally, politically, and by economic status.

That’s the finding of public opinion polls taken since the Feb. 26 killing of a black teenager by neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.

“How Americans perceive this case is divided on several variables,” says Raghavan Mayur, president of TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence, which conducted a recent Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll. “A similar pattern emerges when asked if blacks should be concerned about racial profiling in predominantly white areas.”

For example, twice as many blacks and Hispanics as whites say race played a major role in the shooting death of Trayvon (73 to 36 percent). The Monitor/TIPP poll of 906 adults taken from March 30 to April 5 finds other disparities as well.

  • Younger respondents are more likely to see race as playing a major role in the case than those of middle age (66 to 43 percent).
  • Women more so than men (48 to 39 percent).
  • Those of modest income more than the wealthy (51 to 37 percent).
  • Democrats much more so than Republicans (64 to 32 percent).

Asked in this survey “to what extent should blacks be concerned about racial profiling by police or law enforcement in predominantly white areas,” 69 percent say to “a great” or “some” extent. Here too, younger respondents, women, blacks and Hispanics, and Democrats are more likely to see racial profiling as a problem.

A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds similar results.


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