GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
PRINCETON, NJ - Questions and Answers About American Public Opinion on the Simpson/Goldman Murders
Q. Has there been any change in the perceptions of Americans that O.J. Simpson is guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman five years ago, on June 12, 1994?
No. Americans still say that O.J. Simpson committed the murders, as they have almost since the beginning of the tragic saga in 1994.
A majority of Americans -- 66% -- said that the accusation that Simpson committed the murders was probably or definitely true in June 1994, right after the celebrated car chase and arrest of O.J. Simpson. That percentage has stayed at about that level or higher ever since, with a gradual shift from the "probably true" category to the "definitely true" category.
In Gallup's most recent poll, conducted in February of this year, 73% of Americans said that the charges were true.
Americans' convictions on this issue have stayed remarkably stable over the last five years, even after Simpson's innocent verdict in the famous criminal trial, on October 3, 1995. A poll conducted shortly after the verdict, on October 5-7, 1995, found that 67% of the public felt the charges were true, including 30% who said they were definitely true and another 37% who said they were probably true. Similarly, the February 1997 civil trial verdict of guilty induced hardly any change in these percentages.
The highest percentage to think that the charges were not true -- 25% -- came in the October 5-7, 1995 poll conducted after Simpson's acquittal in the criminal trial. In this year's February poll, 21% of Americans said the charges that Simpson committed the murders were probably or definitely not true.
In short, Americans reached their opinions on Simpson's guilt early on after the murders and all of the events since that time have not changed their opinions.
Q. Race played a major role in the trial of O.J. Simpson and made a major difference in the ways in which blacks and whites viewed the case. Has this changed?
No. Race remains a sharply differentiating factor in perceptions of Simpson's guilt or innocence. Gallup polling has consistently shown major differences in the views of whites and blacks on Simpson's guilt, and these differences have remained. In the poll conducted immediately after the criminal verdict of innocence, in October 1995, only 27% of blacks said that the murder charges against Simpson were true, compared to 73% of whites. In this year's February poll, not much has changed. Seventy-nine percent of whites say the charges are true, compared to 35% of blacks.
Q. What about sympathy for O.J. Simpson and all he has gone through?
There was some sympathy for Simpson among Americans shortly after his arrest, when 49% of those interviewed said they felt very or somewhat sympathetic towards him, and only 41% said they were at least somewhat unsympathetic.
These levels of sympathy evaporated fairly quickly, however, dropping to only about 30% who were sympathetic in the summer of 1995. In Gallup's February 1999 poll, 22% of the public said they were sympathetic towards Simpson: 6% very sympathetic and 16% somewhat sympathetic.
The rest, 75%, are unsympathetic, including a majority, 54% who said that they are very unsympathetic towards the former NFL star.
Q. Are there differences by race in terms of this sympathy question?
Yes. Fifty-nine percent of blacks say that they are sympathetic towards Simpson, compared to only 16% of whites.
Q. One of the recurring issues relating to O.J. Simpson has been the issue of custody of his two children, whose mother, Nicole Brown Simpson, was one of the two murder victims. Do Americans feel comfortable with the idea of O.J. Simpson retaining custody of his two children?
No. When asked in February about the issue, 51% of the American public said that Simpson should be denied legal custody of his children, while 40% said that he should continue to be given legal custody.
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 1,013 adults, 18 years and older, conducted February 26-28, 1999. For results based on this sample, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 3 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.
In your opinion, should O.J. Simpson: [ROTATED]?
|Continue to be given legal custody of his two children (or)||40%|
|Be denied legal custody of his two children (or)||51|
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|
|99 Feb 26-28||36%||38%||15%||6%||6%|
|97 Feb 5||36||35||13||8||8|
|96 Dec 9-11||36||38||11||7||8|
|95 Oct 19-22||30||40||13||9||8|
|95 Oct 5-7||30||37||16||9||8|
|95 Sep 29-30||30||33||15||8||14|
|95 Aug 28-30||30||37||16||7||10|
|95 Jul 20-23||29||40||14||7||10|
|95 Jul 7-9||34||39||12||7||8|
|95 Jun 5-6||33||42||11||6||8|
|95 Apr 17-19||24||41||15||7||13|
|95 Mar 17-19||17||44||18||6||15|
|95 Feb 3-5||20||45||15||7||13|
|95 Jan 16-18||24||46||13||6||11|
|94 Oct 7-9||14||48||15||6||17|
|94 Sep 18, 20||14||47||15||5||19|
|94 Jul 15-17||16||51||13||7||13|
|94 Jul 1-3||12||50||17||4||17|
|94 Jun 22||10||56||13||3||18|
Based on what you know and have seen in the news, how do you feel toward O. J. Simpson -- READ 1-4:
|99 Feb 26-28||6%||16%||21%||54%||3%|
|97 Feb 5||10||22||22||39||7|
|96 May 9-12||4||17||22||52||5|
|95 Jul 20-23||9||28||24||32||7|
|95 Jul 7-9||9||22||24||41||4|
|95 Jun 5-6||7||24||23||41||5|
|95 Mar 17-19||8||31||26||26||9|
|95 Feb 3-5||9||29||21||33||6|
|95 Jan 16-18||11||27||23||33||6|
|94 Sep 18, 20||9||35||22||23||11|
|94 Jul 1-3||13||34||26||18||9|
|94 Jun 25-28||14||35||19||22||10|