CNN O.J. Simpson Trial

Races disagree on impact of Simpson trial

CNN-Time Magazine Poll

October 6, 1995
Web posted at: 1 a.m. EDT

Interviews with 517 whites and 400 African-Americans conducted October 4-5, 1995.

African-Americans and whites alike believe that the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case will increase racial tensions in the United States. But while a majority of whites think that race relations will improve, a majority of blacks do not think that race relations will ever get better.

CNN/Time Poll results:

Effect of verdict on racial tension

             Whites   Americans

Increase       51%      58%
Decrease       20%      18%

Will race relations ever get better?

             Whites   Americans
Yes            54%      31%
No             37%      59%

Most African-Americans say they are not bothered by the fact that many whites were extremely upset by the verdict in the Simpson case. And a majority of whites say they are not bothered by the number of whites who were extremely upset by the verdict. But four in 10 whites and more than a third of African-Americans are bothered by the other race's reaction to the verdict.

Bothered by whites' reaction to verdict?

Yes               36%
No                63%

Bothered by African-Americans' reaction to verdict?

Yes              40%
No               58%

A majority of blacks think that race was a minor factor or not a factor at all in the jury's decision. Only 39 percent of whites feel that way. Most whites believe that race was the most significant factor in the jury's decision or an important factor. Nearly nine in 10 African-Americans think the Simpson jury did the right thing; 49 percent of whites do not think so. Whites and blacks agree that Mark Fuhrman should be put on trial for perjury. The two groups also think that it is appropriate for Simpson to regain custody of his two small children. But they differ on whether it would be appropriate for Simpson to participate in the Million Man March or appear on pay-per-view television to discuss his experiences.

Race as a factor in jury's decision

               Whites    Americans
Not a factor    19%        39%
Minor factor    20%        22%
Major factor    55%        32%

Jury did the right thing                

Whites             41%
African-Americans  88%

Fuhrman should be tried for perjury 

Whites                74%
African-Americans     84%

Appropriate for Simpson to get custody of children?

Whites                55%
African-Americans     90%

Appropriate for Simpson to participate in march?

Whites                24%
African-Americans     48%

Appropriate for Simpson to appear on pay-per-view TV?

Whites                30%
African-Americans     52%

Differences in opinions about the facts in the Simpson trial itself continue to divide whites and blacks. Regardless of the verdict, most whites believe Simpson was guilty of murder; most African-Americans say he was innocent. Two-thirds of all African-Americans think that there was a conspiracy to frame Simpson for the murders; six in 10 whites don't believe in such a conspiracy. And both groups suspect that racial issues continue to tint the other group's view of the case. Sixty percent of all whites believe that blacks who think Simpson is innocent hold that view mostly because of Simpson's race. Among African-Americans, 58 percent think that whites who maintain Simpson is guilty feel that way mostly based on Simpson's race.

Opinion of O.J. Simpson

               Whites   Americans
Guilty          62%       14%
Not guilty      21%       66%

Was Simpson framed?                
               Whites   Americans
Yes              26%       65%            
Whites who think Simpson is guilty feel that way based on ...

Race             58%
Evidence         20%

African-Americans who think Simpson is not guilty feel that way based on ...

Race             60%
Evidence         23%


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