Americans Split on Zimmerman Verdict, but Not on Excessive Trial Coverage

  Americans Split on Zimmerman Verdict, but Not on Excessive Trial Coverage

Americans also somewhat divided on whether public response to the verdict has
been responsible

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, July 23, 2013

NEW YORK, July 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --While July 13's "not guilty" verdict
for George Zimmerman may have brought his trial to a close, the court of
public opinion is far from done with the subject. The days since have seen
both scathing critiques and staunch support for the jury's decision, and the
Harris Poll finds the American public to be equally divided on the subject –
though Americans do overwhelmingly agree that the trial was excessively


These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,034 U.S. adults surveyed
online between July 16 and 18, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full findings,
including data tables and additional perceptual breakdowns, available here)

Americans at odds on verdict overall, but partialities emerge along age and
gender lines

Almost half (46%) of Americans indicate that they agree with the verdict and
while almost the same number (45%) indicate that they disagree, with 10% not
at all sure. Looking strictly at the most impassioned responses reveals an
even tighter parity, with 27% each indicating that they strongly agree and
strongly disagree.

However, looking at specific segments reveals more consistent inclinations for
or against the verdict, with minority respondents, younger Americans and women
more likely to disagree with the verdict:

  oThe vast majority of black respondents (89%) and the majority of Hispanic
    respondents (57%) disagree with the verdict, 76% of black respondents
    strongly so, while a majority of white respondents agree with the verdict
    (54%, with 36% disagreeing).
  o18-34 year olds are more likely to disagree than agree with the verdict,
    by a 19-point margin (54% disagree, 35% agree), 35-44 year olds are split
    (45% disagree, 44% agree), and Americans 45 and older are more likely to
    agree with the verdict by a 12-point margin (45-54 year olds: 51% agree,
    39% disagree; 55+ year olds: 52% agree, 40% disagree).
  oFeelings toward the verdict also shift by gender. Men are more likely to
    agree with the verdict by an 11-point margin (52% agree, 41% disagree),
    while women are more likely to disagree with the all-female jury's
    decision by a 9-point margin (49% disagree, 40% agree).

Those who consider themselves more knowledgeable on the trial are slightly
more likely to stand in favor of its result, with those describing themselves
as knowing a great deal about the trial of George Zimmerman more likely to
agree with the verdict, by a 7-point margin (53% agree, 46% disagree).

Trial coverage perceived as excessive, imbalanced

While Americans may be at odds on the trial's outcome, as a whole they show no
such split when it comes to the trial's coverage. An overwhelming majority
(85%) agree – over half (54%) strongly so – that the trial received excessive
news coverage, and roughly three-fourths (74%) agree to perceiving it as
inappropriate that the trial has been more broadly covered than recent
violence elsewhere in the country.

Additionally, roughly six in ten disagree that, overall, the media has been
balanced in their coverage of the events surrounding the case (62%) and that
it is appropriate that the trial has received a similar amount of attention as
recent allegations of widespread U.S. surveillance programs (59%).

Americans are more divided when looking at public response to the verdict, but
only until more impassioned opinions are examined. Overall, Americans are
slightly more likely to agree (52%) than to disagree (48%) that the public
response to the verdict has largely been responsible. However, when looking
more specifically at strong opinions on the subject, disagreement outpaces
agreement at roughly a 3:1 ratio (41% strongly disagree, 14% strongly agree).

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 16
and 18, 2013 among 2,034 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex,
race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where
necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the
population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for
respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling,
are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to
quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error
associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and
response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris
Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All
that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different
probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates.
These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to
participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to
reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based
on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no
estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or
promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

The Harris Poll^® #47, July 23, 2013
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive
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leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant
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SOURCE Harris Interactive

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