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Poll: Positive attitudes about race relations decline after Zimmerman verdict

10:18 AM, Jul 24, 2013   |    comments
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After George Zimmerman was acquitted in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows that attitudes about U.S. race relations have appeared to worsen.

Fifty-two percent of all adults say that race relations are "very good" or "fairly good," which is down from more than 70 percent of Americans who said this in past NBC/WSJ polls from 2009-2011.

And 54 percent agree with the statement that America is a nation where people are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character - down from 60 percent who agreed with this in 2009 and 2010.

Responses to these questions also reveal divisions among racial and political lines.

Just 19 percent of African Americans and 46 percent of Democrats think Americans are judged by the content of their character rather than by their skin color.

By comparison, 54 percent of Latinos, 59 percent of whites and 65 percent of Republicans believe this.

And 38 percent of African Americans say that race relations in the U.S. are good - versus 52 percent of whites and 60 percent of Latinos.

Asked directly about the Zimmerman trial, 32 percent of all respondents say it decreased their confidence in the U.S. legal system, 17 percent say it increased their confidence and 48 percent say it had no effect.

But these numbers once again show a divide by race and party: 71 percent of African Americans and 48 percent of Democrats say the trial decreased their confidence in the legal system.

That's compared with 35 percent of Latinos, 24 percent of whites and just 13 percent of Republicans who say this.

"This is about as polarizing as it gets," says Democratic pollster Jay Campbell, who helped conduct the poll with Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

The NBC/WSJ poll was conducted July 17-21 of 1,000 adults (including 300 cell phone-only respondents), and it has an overall margin of error of plus-minus 3.1 percentage points.

Mark Murray, Senior Political Editor, NBC News

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