Seventy nine percent of registered voters oppose allowing universities to consider applicants’ race as a factor in their admissions process. According to an ABC poll, 64% of registered voters oppose affirmative action “strongly.”
This marks an historic low. According to an NBC poll, support for affirmative action is down to 45%, falling from 61% in the early 90's. This should not come as a surprise, however. Even current proponents maintain that the goal of the program is to eliminate the need for affirmative action. As minorities make gains in standards of living, the need for assistance diminishes.
Unsurprisingly, Republicans are slightly more opposed at 86% to Democrats at 69%. Men and women, however, oppose the program equally. Remarkably and contrary to popular intuition, by region, the South is the least opposed to affirmative action. The Western region, the most diverse of all the regions, is the most opposed to affirmative action. This may, in part, be due to proximity; In cases like Abigail Fisher’s, students oppose affirmative action based off experiencing, firsthand, rejection from schools that admit their minority compatriots.
Even if affirmative action is overturned, it will continue to impact minorities. Long after race ceases to be a factor in admissions, some will remain wary of the qualifications of these targeted minorities. Indeed, this might explain why support and opposition do not fall so neatly along racial lines. American whites and blacks oppose affirmative action in equal number (79% and 78% respectively). Hispanics support the program the most, however, with only 68% in outright opposition. East and Southeast Asian Americans were not polled.
The court will release their ruling on Fisher v. University of Austin, Texas, sometime this month. It is unclear whether popular opinion will sway their vote. A tie is also possible, since Justice Elena Kagen has recused herself. In the event of a 4-4 tie, the ruling would favor the status quo and affirmative action would remain legal.