Public opinion shifts on Trayvon Martin case

David Martosko Executive Editor
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As news develops about the investigation into the Feb. 26 Trayvon Martin shooting in Sanford, Fla., nationwide support for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the shooter, is softening. That’s the message from a pair of polls — one conducted March 25-26 and the other March 27-28.

The earlier poll, from CNN and ORC International, found that 73 percent of Americans were in favor of police arresting Zimmerman, the self-appointed neighborhood watch leader who killed Martin after what he has said was an altercation initiated by the unarmed teen.

But just two days later, a national poll from Wilson Perkins Allen (WPA) Opinion Research determined that just 48 percent of Americans said police should arrest Zimmerman — a decrease of 25 percent.

The two polls shared the same distribution of political partisans, each sampling 30 percent Democrats and 25 percent Republicans. The remaining 45 percent either identified themselves as independents or declined to answer the question.

In the WPA poll, 39 percent said they believe Trayvon Martin was “minding his own business” when he was attacked. Just 18 percent said they thought “Zimmerman was attacked” by the teen.

And in a separate question, 74 percent of those polled said they believe racial profiling “is a problem in America today.”

Yet less than half, during the Tuesday-Wednesday polling, said Zimmerman should be arrested.

The margins of error for the CNN and WPA polls were 3.0 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively.

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