Photo credit: Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons
Photo credit: Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons

A Florida jury’s verdict earlier this month that acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, instantly fueled angry protests across the nation. From Atlanta to Oakland, demonstrators took to the streets, condemning the verdict as racially biased.

Despite the high visibility and widespread occurrence of these protests, however, the American public remains sharply divided in its reaction to the case, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted about a week after the verdict. The poll of 1,480 adults nationwide found that roughly as many respondents were satisfied with the verdict (39 percent) as were dissatisfied (42 percent). More than 50 percent of respondents said that the issue of race was receiving far more attention than it deserved, while only 36 percent said the case raised important questions of race that need to be discussed. Not surprisingly, the survey also found that public reaction was sharply divided along racial and partisan lines: a large majority of African-American respondents (86 percent) said they were dissatisfied with the verdict as compared to 30 percent of whites respondents. Meanwhile, only 22 percent of Democratic respondents said they were satisfied, as opposed to 61 percent of Republicans, and a whopping 80 percent of Tea Party Republicans.

Below are results to two of the survey’s main questions (graphically represented in different ways). Select an individual group and mouse over the charts to see percentages.

Reactions to Verdict in Trayvon Martin Case Split Sharply Along Racial Lines 7 March,2014Matthew Green


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @MGreenKQED

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