by John Sexton
Weeks of one-sided stories pushed by professional agitators like Al Sharpton have had an effect on public opinion. Last weekend, (3/25-3/26) CNN conducted a poll which showed 73% of adults believed Trayvon Martin's shooter George Zimmerman should be arrested. Now a new poll by WPA opinion dynamics finds that number has dropped sharply in just the last few days:
Our poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday revealed that just 48% of Americans believe he should be arrested. Our poll matched the partisan distribution of the CNN poll, so this is a real and significant change in opinion as more key details came out over a few brief days.
Based on what you have read or heard about this incident, do you think the police should or should not arrest George Zimmerman for shooting Trayvon Martin?
- Should 48%
- Should Not 16%
- Unsure 36%
What this shows is the effect of telling Zimmerman's side of the story. As numerous stories have revealed information that supports parts of Zimmerman's account this week, we see a 25% drop in those thinking Zimmerman should be arrested. Note that most of those people have moved into the "Unsure" column rather than the "Should Not" column. This makes sense since new information makes the situation less clear. Two witnesses back up Zimmerman's claim that he was on the ground yelling for help before the gunshot, but that does not prove Zimmerman acted in self-defense. What this poll really reveals is the power the media has to slant a story in such a way that a solid majority feels confident about the facts when, given less biased information, they would choose to wait and see.