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Americans Still Believe O.J. Simpson Is Guilty

Americans Still Believe O.J. Simpson Is Guilty

Controversial double-murder case still seen as blow to race relations

by Mark Gillespie

PRINCETON, NJ -- The court case that spawned a new television genre -- celebrities in court -- is back in the limelight again. Ten years after the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman and the infamous low-speed car chase through the streets of Los Angeles that ended with O.J. Simpson's arrest, the former football star has returned to the spotlight with a series of media interviews in which he maintains his innocence.

Despite significant evidence to support the charges, Simpson was acquitted in his criminal trial in October 1995. He was later found liable for the wrongful deaths of Simpson and Goldman in a civil lawsuit and ordered to pay roughly $33 million.

Then, as now, Gallup Polls showed a majority of Americans believed the charges against the former football star were true. Gallup conducted 19 polls between June 1994 and 1999 in which Americans were asked about their views of the charges against Simpson. In each one, a majority of Americans said they believed the murder charges were true. A new CNN/Gallup poll conducted June 3-6, 2004, fits that pattern, finding that 78% of Americans today believe the charges were either "definitely true" or "probably true" -- the highest expression of belief in Simpson's guilt on record.

Simpson Case Still Racially Divisive

Charges of racism flew almost from the moment Simpson was first considered a suspect, and even today, more nonwhites than whites remain convinced of Simpson's innocence. Just 57% of nonwhites believe that the charges against Simpson were true, compared with 82% of whites.

The June 3-6 poll asked Americans whether the Simpson trial did more to hurt or help race relations in the United States. Sixty-eight percent indicated that the trial was a setback for race relations, while just 10% believed the controversy aided relations. This finding is consistent with a Gallup Poll conducted in 1999 (near the fifth anniversary of the murders), and slightly lower than the 74% who believed the case hurt race relations in a Gallup Poll conducted immediately after the criminal trial concluded in October 1995.

The opinion that the case hurt relations is shared equally by both whites and nonwhites, with 68% of whites and 67% of nonwhites expressing this view.

Survey Methods

These results are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,000 adults, aged 18 and older, conducted June 3-6, 2004. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is ±3 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 865 whites, the maximum margins of sampling error are ±4 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 130 nonwhites, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±9 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

 

21.      Do you personally believe the charges that O.J. Simpson murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are definitely true, probably true, probably not true, or definitely not true?

 

Definitely true

Probably true

Probably not true

Definitely not true

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

National Adults

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

35

43

12

4

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 26-28

35

38

15

6

6

1996 Dec 9-11

36

38

11

7

8

1996 Apr/May

35

40

14

6

5

1995 Oct 19-22

30

40

13

9

8

1995 Oct 5-7

30

37

16

9

8

1995 Sep 29-30

30

33

15

8

14

1995 Aug 28-30

30

37

16

7

10

1995 Jul 20-23

29

40

14

7

10

1995 Jul 7-9

34

39

12

7

8

1995 Jun 5-6

33

42

11

6

8

1995 Apr 17-19

24

41

15

7

13

1995 Mar 17-19

17

44

18

6

15

1995 Feb 3-5

20

45

15

7

13

1995 Jan 16-18

24

46

13

6

11

1994 Oct 7-9

14

48

15

6

17

1994 Sep 18, 20

14

47

15

5

9

1994 Jul 15-17

16

51

13

7

13

1994 Jul 1-3

12

50

17

4

17

1994 Jun 22

10

56

13

3

18

 

 

Definitely true

Probably true

Probably not true

Definitely not true

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

Whites

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

38

44

9

3

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 26-28

40

40

12

4

5

1996 Dec 9-11

40

40

8

5

8

1996 Apr/May

38

41

10

5

6

1995 Oct 19-22

33

42

11

6

8

1995 Oct 5-7

34

39

14

6

7

1995 Sep 29-30

33

35

14

4

14

1995 Aug 28-30

34

39

13

4

10

1995 Jul 20-23

32

43

11

4

10

1995 Jul 7-9

37

41

10

5

8

1995 Jun 5-6

37

43

8

4

8

1995 Apr 17-19

28

43

11

5

12

1995 Mar 17-19

19

48

16

4

14

1995 Feb 3-5

22

49

12

5

12

1995 Jan 16-18

27

48

11

3

11

1994 Oct 7-9

16

51

13

4

16

1994 Sep 18, 20

19

49

14

4

14

1994 Jul 15-17

17

55

11

4

13

1994 Jul 1-3

13

55

13

2

17

1994 Jun 22

11

60

12

1

16

 

 

Definitely true

Probably true

Probably not true

Definitely not true

No
opinion

 

%

%

%

%

%

Nonwhites

 

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

21

36

28

9

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 26-28

11

30

29

21

9

1996 Dec 9-11

16

27

29

18

10

1996 Apr/May

16

27

32

14

11

1995 Oct 19-22

15

30

22

25

9

1995 Oct 5-7

10

24

26

26

13

1995 Sep 29-30

11

25

23

27

14

1995 Aug 28-30

9

26

29

23

13

1995 Jul 20-23

11

24

29

22

14

1995 Jul 7-9

14

29

28

18

11

1995 Jun 5-6

9

32

31

20

8

1995 Apr 17-19

4

27

34

16

19

1995 Mar 17-19

4

24

32

18

20

1995 Feb 3-5

6

26

32

20

16

1995 Jan 16-18

6

31

29

20

14

1994 Oct 7-9

6

29

26

18

20

1994 Sep 18, 20

3

32

38

9

18

1994 Jul 15-17

8

28

27

26

11

1994 Jul 1-3

6

24

40

13

17

1994 Jun 22

5

34

24

12

26

 

22.    Overall, do you think the O.J. Simpson trial has done more to help or to hurt race relations in this country?

 

Help

Hurt

NEITHER
(vol.)

No opinion

 

%

%

%

%

National Adults

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

10

68

17

5

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 5 ^

10

68

13

9

1995 Oct 5-7

15

74

6

5

 

 

 

 

 

Whites

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

9

68

18

4

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 5 ^

10

68

13

9

1995 Oct 5-7

13

78

5

4

 

 

 

 

 

Nonwhites

 

 

 

 

2004 Jun 3-6

11

67

13

9

 

 

 

 

 

1999 Feb 5 ^

11

69

13

8

1995 Oct 5-7

25

56

8

11

 

 

 

 

 

^ Polls conducted entirely in one day, such as this one, are subject to additional error or bias not found in polls conducted over several days.

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