The American public feels that many groups face discrimination today and widely believes that racism remains a problem in the country, at least to some degree — but it is more closely divided over affirmative action as a general policy, with a narrow majority supporting it.
Those who feel there’s a lot of discrimination in the country also tend to favor affirmative action in general.
But for many of them, that general view doesn’t extend into the particular mechanism of having college admissions consider an applicant’s race. Looking at the pending, Americans’ views tilt to a substantial majority against allowing colleges to consider race.
Across partisan groups and racial groups, there are comparably fewer who favor colleges considering race than there are those favoring affirmative action in general.
So, on the college admissions matter, partisan differences exist but aren’t overly dramatic. Republicans are widely opposed to the use of race in admissions, and they are joined in that view by more than half of Democrats, and by three in four independents. Black Americans are relatively more likely than White Americans to say colleges should be allowed to consider race, but still just split on it. College graduates are slightly likelier than people without college degrees to say so, too.
This proportion saying affirmative action programs should continue today is generally comparable to what we’ve seen in our polling when the topic has come up over the last 25 years.
Now, here’s where perceptions of discrimination come in today, at least a bit.
Most Americans say there is at least some discrimination against Black, Hispanic, and Asian people in America today, and those who feel there’s a lot of it are relatively more likely to think that colleges ought to consider race — though, even then, it’s fewer than half who say so.
Then nearly half of Americans feel White people also suffer from at least some discrimination, and over half of White Americans say this. (Conservatives and Republicans are especially likely to.) Among those who express this sentiment, there’s majority opposition to affirmative action and to colleges considering race.
Most think racism remains a problem today, and even more Americans — three-quarters — say racism has been a major problem in the nation’s history.
This CBS News/YouGov survey was conducted with a nationally representative sample of 2,145 U.S. adult residents interviewed between June 14-17, 2023. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the U.S. Census American Community Survey and Current Population Survey, as well as past vote. The margin of error is ±3.0 points.