Jan 16, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Majority of U.S. adults say they view affirmative action ban favorably: Gallup

Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Gallup; Chart: Axios Visuals

A majority of U.S. adults across races and ethnicities viewed the Supreme Court's decision to strike down affirmative action as favorable.

Why it matters: Diversity in higher education is expected to decrease after the decision upended decades of precedent.

  • Effects will become more noticeable in the coming months as the first full cohort of students to apply after the ruling is admitted to school.
  • 68% of U.S. adults overall view the ban favorably, per Gallup data released Tuesday.
  • Predictions about the effects of the ban differed "across racial lines, underlining the uncertainty experienced by universities and students alike as they prepare for the next school year," Gallup said.

Details: The majorities of White, Hispanic and Asian adults said the end of affirmative action was "mostly a good thing." But among Black adults, there was a nearly even split in views.

  • 52% of Black adults said the decision was mostly good, and 48% said it was "mostly a bad thing."

Catch up quick: The Supreme Court upended decades of precedent in June, ruling that colleges can't explicitly consider applicants' race in admissions.

  • The decision was especially expected to jeopardize the representation of Black and Latino students.

Zoom in: Black adults were likely to view the impacts of the decision as negative.

  • Among their chief worries: how it will affect the ability of Black students to attend college.
  • Black enrollment fell from more than 2.5 million in 2010 to 1.9 million in 2020, per the Chronicle of Higher Education. More recently, Black, Latino and Asian students accounted for growth in the first enrollment increase since the start of COVID-19.
  • "Black students are more likely than other students to be juggling competing priorities that hamper their ability to complete a degree," Gallup researchers wrote.

Hispanic Americans were mixed evenly in their views of the impact on their own race, while many white and Asian Americans said it would have "no impact" on applicants of their race.

What's next: Prospective students are factoring the end of affirmative action into their decisions to pursue higher education, per Gallup.

  • 48% of Black adults between 18-59 who have considered pursuing a bachelor's degree recently said the ruling will impact their college application decisions.

Older Black adults were more likely to view the ruling as negative than younger ones, showing larger generational differences than other races.

  • And they were more fearful of the effect of the ruling on education opportunities for Black students and diversity on campuses.
  • "Quite a bit of that might be tailored through the lens of people's experiences — either they, themselves experienced it or knowing someone who has experienced the benefits of affirmative action," said Camille Lloyd, director of Gallup's Black voices center.

Go deeper: Ending affirmative action is watershed moment for higher education

Go deeper