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Most Americans Believe Charges Against Michael Jackson Probably True

Most Americans Believe Charges Against Michael Jackson Probably True

Muted racial divide in Jackson case compared with O.J. Simpson case

by David W. Moore

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- The racial division that characterized public opinion about O.J. Simpson's murder trial in 1995 is largely muted in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial. The latest Gallup survey shows that a large majority of whites believe the charges against Jackson are either definitely or probably true, similar to whites' opinions about the murder charges against Simpson in 1994 and 1995. Large majorities of blacks, however, said the charges against Simpson were either definitely or probably not true, leading to a large racial gap in attitudes on the matter. About Jackson, blacks are much more divided, leaning -- by a modest margin -- toward the probability that he is guilty.

The most recent Gallup survey about Jackson was conducted April 18-21. Only a third of Americans say they are following the trial very or somewhat closely. By comparison, in a July 1-3, 1994, Gallup survey, 72% of Americans said they had been following news about the Simpson murder charges either very or somewhat closely. Public attention remained high throughout the following year, as reflected a year later in a July 6, 1995, Gallup survey. At that time, just after the prosecution in the case rested, 66% of Americans said they had seen or heard a "great deal" or "moderate amount" about the trial.

How Much Paying Attention to News About Michael Jackson/O.J. Simpson

HOW CLOSELY FOLLOW:

Very
closely

Somewhat
closely

Not too
closely


Not at all

No
opinion

 

 

 

 

 

Michael Jackson
2005 Apr 18-21

6%

27

43

24

*

O.J. Simpson
1994 Jul 1-3

25%

47

21

6

1

 

 

 

 

 

HOW MUCH HEARD:

Great
deal

Moderate
amount

Only a
little

Nothing
at all

No
opinion

O.J. Simpson
1995 Jul 6

38%

28

29

4

1

The current poll shows that 70% of Americans believe the charges against Jackson are true -- including 12% who say "definitely" and 58% who say "probably" true. In two previous surveys taken in February this year, 69% and 75% indicated the charges were true, little different from current opinion.

Do you personally believe the charges that Michael Jackson sexually abused a boy are -- [ROTATED: definitely true, probably true, probably not true, (or) definitely not true]? 

                 

Definitely
true

Probably
true

Probably
not true

Definitely
not true

No
opinion

%

%

%

%

%

2005 Apr 18-21

12

58

13

2

15

 

 

 

 

 

2005 Feb 25-27

22

53

13

3

9

2005 Feb 4-6

16

53

17

2

12

A comparison of these views by race shows that even among blacks, more adults are likely to believe that the charges are at least probably true than to believe they are at least probably not true. (To provide a more substantial number of black respondents, the results of the three surveys this year were combined.) An average of the responses among whites over the three surveys shows that whites believe the charges against Jackson are true, by 75% to 13%. Among blacks, the margin is much lower, with 49% saying the charges are at least probably true, and 41% saying they are at least probably not true.

Charges Against Jackson Are:

                 

Definitely/
Probably true

Definitely/
Probably not true

No
opinion

 

 

 

Whites (3 polls)

75%

13

12

Blacks (3 polls)

49%

41

10

The margin among whites saying the charges are true is 62 percentage points, compared with 8 points among blacks -- for a net racial gap of 54 points.

While this gap is not insignificant, the overall results show that even among blacks, a plurality agrees with the majority of whites. Also, in comparison with differences between blacks' and whites' attitudes about the Simpson case, the current racial gap is relatively modest.

For example, in a July 20-23, 1995, survey, Gallup found that a large majority of whites believed the charges against Simpson were true, by 75% to 15% -- similar to the percentages in the Jackson case. Among blacks, however, a large majority believed the charges were not true, by 60% to 25%.

Charges Against Simpson Are:

Definitely/
Probably true

Definitely/
Probably not true

No
opinion

1995 Jul 20-23

 

 

 

Whites

75%

15

10

Blacks

25%

60

15

The margin among whites for Simpson was 60 points, while the margin among blacks was a minus 35 points -- for a net racial gap of 95 points.

The racial gap remained substantial, even after Simpson's acquittal. When asked whether the jury made the right or the wrong decision, a majority of whites said it was wrong, while an overwhelming majority of blacks said it was right.

Jury Decision in the Simpson Case Is:

Right decision

Wrong decision

No opinion

1995 Oct 19-22

 

 

 

Whites

36%

53

11

Blacks

89%

6

5

Among whites, the margin saying the decision was wrong was 17 points, with 53% saying it was the wrong decision and 36% saying it was right. Blacks said the decision was right by an 83-point margin, 89% to 6%. The net racial gap is 100 points, almost twice as large as the racial gap in the Jackson case.

Survey Methods

Results in the current survey are based on telephone interviews with 1,003 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted April 18-21, 2005. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. The combination of three surveys included 206 black respondents, for a maximum margin of error of ±8 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.

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Gallup https://news.gallup.com/poll/16081/most-americans-believe-charges-against-michael-jackson-probably-true.aspx
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