Roughly 62 percent of American adults in a new Gallup poll released Friday support affirmative action programs for minority groups, the highest level of support recorded for such policies over the past 20 years.
The support is up from the 54 percent who indicated support for affirmative action in 2016 and the 61 percent in 2018.
In 2001, when Gallup first measured support for policies that promote representation for traditionally underrepresented groups, about 47 percent of survey respondents backed the measures.
Gallup did not specify in the latest poll which type of affirmative action the survey referred to, but the analytics firm noted that respondents may have been thinking about job programs, given that the survey also asked about job opportunities.
The Friday survey found that 44 percent of respondents do not think Black Americans have as many opportunities as white Americans to get any job for which they are qualified, the highest since Gallup first began conducting readings on racial disparities in job searches in 1963.
On the flip side, 55 percent of American adults included in the survey say Black people have just as good a chance as white people to get a job for which they are qualified.
Additionally, 60 percent of respondents say they believe Black people have the same chances as white people to buy a house they can afford — 39 percent disagreed with this statement.
Despite this, just 40 percent of respondents said that racial minorities overall have equal access to job opportunities, a drop from 45 percent measured in 2018 and 53 percent in 2008.
The study comes as affirmative action has become a widely debated topic in recent years, especially in connection to education programs at the university level.
Several groups have sought to challenge the Supreme Court’s landmark 2003 decision of Grutter v. Bollinger, in which the justices upheld the use of affirmative action in college admissions, arguing that considering race in applications advances “a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.”
However, the Supreme Court in May said it would consider taking up a challenge to Harvard University’s use of racial criteria in college admissions, with conservative-backed group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) alleging that the school illegally discriminates against Asian American applicants.
The high court last month asked the Biden administration to weigh in on the challenge, potentially pushing back the litigation timeline by several months.
The Gallup poll was conducted from June 1 to July 5 and included a random sample of nearly 1,400 U.S. adults, and reported a margin of error of 3 percentage points.