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More Favor Major Government Role in Assisting Minorities

More Favor Major Government Role in Assisting Minorities

Story Highlights

  • 38% favor major government role to help minorities
  • Up from 32% in 2013 and 27% in 2011
  • 64% of blacks, 28% of whites favor major government role

PRINCETON, N.J. -- As both major party presidential candidates tout ways their policies will benefit blacks and other minority groups, Americans are now, more so than in recent years, open to a prominent government role to help racial minorities. Currently, 38% say the government should have "a major role" in trying to improve the social and economic position of minorities, up from 32% in 2013 and 27% in 2011, but similar to what Gallup measured in 2004 and 2005.

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The June 7-July 1 Gallup Minority Rights and Relations survey also finds that 40% of Americans want the government to play "a minor role" in helping minorities, while 22% do not want the government to have any role in this area. The latter figure is down slightly from 26% in 2011 but remains up significantly from 14% in 2004.

Gallup's 2011 and 2013 polls were conducted at a time of historically low trust in government and subdued concern about matters relating to race. While Americans' trust in government remains low, they have grown increasingly concerned about race relations since 2013 following a series of highly publicized incidents in which black men were killed in confrontations with white police officers.

Blacks have consistently been much more likely than whites to prefer a major role for the government in improving the position of minorities in the U.S. In the latest poll, 64% of blacks and 28% of whites hold this view.

Both blacks' and whites' opinions have shown similar changes over the last 12 years. Support for a major government role was relatively high in 2004 and 2005, fell sharply in 2011 and stayed relatively low in 2013 before increasing significantly this year.

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At 63%, Hispanics are just as likely as blacks to favor a major government role to help minority groups. Hispanics' preferences have varied less than blacks' and whites' over time, ranging from a low of 60% favoring a major role in 2013 to a high of 67% in 2004.

Democrats Favor Larger Government Role Than Republicans Do

Beyond race, there is a major political divide on this question that reflects the political parties' long-standing views of the appropriate role of government. Sixty-three percent of Democrats, but only 15% of Republicans, say the government should have a major role in assisting minority groups. More than twice as many Republicans, 33%, favor no government role as favor a major one. Independents' views are closer to those of Republicans than Democrats, as 33% of independents believe the federal government should have a major role.

Support for a major government role was lower among all party groups in 2011 and 2013 than in the mid-2000s, and all have shown an increase since 2013. But Democrats are more likely today than in 2004 and 2005 to favor a major government role, while Republicans are less likely to do so. That shift could be an example of increasing party polarization on key issues, but it may also reflect the way partisans' attitudes are influenced by the party of the president, with a Republican president in 2004 and 2005 and a Democratic president today.

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Women are significantly more likely than men to say the government should have a major role in improving the position of minorities. Notably, this gender difference holds across racial and political groups. Women may have more empathy than men, and that may influence the degree to which they support government action to assist disadvantaged groups.

Gender Differences in Preference for a Major Government Role to Improve the Social/Economic Position of Racial Minorities
Women Men Difference
% % pct. pts.
National adults 44 32 12
Whites 33 24 9
Blacks 72 54 18
Hispanics 73 53 20
Democrats 68 57 11
Independents 37 30 7
Republicans 18 12 6
June 7-July 1, 2016

Implications

Race has been a major factor in the presidential campaign. Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination over Bernie Sanders in large part because of her greater support among blacks and other minority voters. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has recently made overt appeals to black voters, undaunted by their historically overwhelming support for Democratic presidential candidates.

Clinton and Trump have both argued that their policies -- in particular, their economic plans -- would benefit blacks and other minority voters. Beyond that, the Clinton campaign has outlined a number of specific policy proposals to directly address racial inequality and injustice. Trump's argument has mainly focused on the failures of Democratic policies to improve the situation for many blacks, but he recently called for a new civil rights agenda in a highly publicized visit to a Detroit church.

Americans' greater openness to a major government role to improve the position of minorities means such policy proposals could make more of a difference for voters in this year's presidential election than in the last presidential election.

Historical data are available in Gallup Analytics.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 7-July 1, 2016, with a sample of 3,270 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, who had previously been interviewed in the Gallup Daily tracking poll and agreed to be re-interviewed for a later study. The sample is weighted to be representative of U.S. adults.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the sample of 1,320 non-Hispanic whites, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the sample of 912 non-Hispanic blacks, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the sample of 906 Hispanics, the margin of sampling error is ±6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

View complete question responses and trends.

Gallup


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