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Stand Your Ground Laws Approved Amid Racial Divide: Poll

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Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- A majority of white U.S. voters support stand-your-ground laws permitting deadly force in self-defense, while most black voters oppose them, according to a national survey released today by Quinnipiac University.

Racial divisions are also evident in a question about the federal government providing a bailout for Detroit, with black voters backing such a move by 57 percent to 36 percent and white voters opposing it 63 percent to 26 percent. Of all voters surveyed, 57 percent oppose a Detroit bailout compared with 33 percent who support it.

U.S. lawmakers have dismissed the possibility of federal aid to Detroit, which on July 18 became the largest American city to declare bankruptcy.

Stand-your-ground laws in Florida and other states allow the use of deadly force instead of retreat when a person fears for his or her life. These laws gained notoriety after the February 2012 death of Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old in Sanford, Florida. The shooter, George Zimmerman, didn’t use stand your ground as a defense in his trial on a charge of second-degree murder. He was acquitted last month.

White voters support stand-your-ground laws by a margin of 57 percent to 37 percent, and black voters oppose them by the same margin. Republicans support the laws 75 percent to 19 percent, while Democrats oppose them 62 percent to 32 percent.

Voters overall backed the laws 53 percent to 40 percent.

Sharp Split

“‘Stand your ground’ splits the country sharply along political, general and racial lines,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement.

The poll also found a 46 percent job-approval rating for President Barack Obama. Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said they disapprove of the job he’s doing.

Congress fared worse, with a 19 percent job-approval rating for Republican lawmakers and 31 percent approving of how the Democrats are doing.

The telephone survey of 1,468 registered voters was conducted July 28-31 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Bykowicz in Washington at jbykowicz@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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