New Meredith College poll looks at views on discrimination, Equal Rights Amendment

New polling from Meredith College examines North Carolinians’ views of discrimination and the Equal Rights Amendment, which seeks to provide protections for those experiencing it.

The full report on the poll, produced in partnership with the ERA-NC Alliance, was published Monday. It delves into how different North Carolinians see discrimination against an array of different groups – from Black and Hispanic people to LGBTQ people and religious groups like Jews and Evangelical Christians.

“The issue of discrimination and what can be done about it is as old as the United States,” the report reads. “Protecting voting rights for all citizens, the fight for equal pay for equal work, and for being treated equally in criminal matters have a long history in this country. Recently, prominent hate crimes against many groups, such as the mass shooting of Black persons in Buffalo or attacks against synagogues and their congregants, have raised additional concerns about how laws grounded in the United States Constitution can protect the country’s citizens.”

“In addition, many politicians have attacked the issue of  ‘wokeness’ as a way of targeting marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, making it more acceptable to discriminate against members of these groups,” the report reads. “It is within this cultural and political context that we decided to survey North Carolinians about their perceptions of discrimination against traditionally marginalized groups in society, such as
women and Black people. We also decided to ask citizens about their perceptions of groups not
considered to be historically marginalized groups—men and White people—to determine
similarities and differences between perceptions of discrimination between historically
marginalized and historically elevated groups.”

Among the poll’s key findings:

  • More than 78 percent of respondents said there is a lot or some discrimination against Black people in society today. Nearly every demographic group — across partisan lines, religious affiliations and education levels — agreed discrimination against Black people is an issue. There was a partisan divide on how much discrimination, however — more than two-thirds of Democrats said there is “a lot of discrimination” against Black people while just over one-in-five Republicans agreed.
  • More than 74 percent said there is a lot or some discrimination against Hispanic people. Though there was some partisan division on the question, every demographic group agreed this group faces discrimination. Interestingly, the largest demographic group (more than 90 percent) to say there was a great deal of discrimination against Hispanic people were those who identified as Jewish.
  • More than two-thirds (nearly 88 percent) said women face discrimination. Most demographic groups said women face some or a great deal of discrimination, though there was a significant partisan divide. Over 82 percent of self-identified Democrats said women face discrimination, while just over 53 percent of Republicans agreed. Women were more likely than men to such discrimination as a serious problem and those people in racial or ethnic minority groups were more likely than white respondents to see discrimination against women to be as serious.
  • Just over 35 percent said men face some or a lot of discrimination in society.  Men were more likely than women to say that discrimination is a significant problem. Interestingly, there was both an age and a racial divide on this issue. The youngest respondents (Generation Z) were more likely to see discrimination against men as an issue as were Black respondents.
  • Muslims were the religious group respondents most agreed face discrimination, with nearly 87 percent agreeing they face discrimination. Nearly 85 percent said Jews face discrimination while nearly 64 percent said Evangelical Christians face at least some discrimination.
  • Nearly 85 percent said LGBTQ people face discrimination, with a majority in all demographic groups agreeing it is a serious problem.

The poll also looked at support from the Equal Rights Amendment, first introduced in Congress in 1923 to establish a constitutional right to equality based on gender. A bill to ratify the ERA was first introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly in 1973 but never passed. It came closest in 1977 when the state House approved the bill 61-55  – but it was narrowly defeated in the state Senate 26-24.

Despite strong support and re-introduction in the state legislature since, it’s never passed both chambers.

“According to Article V of the U.S. Constitution, the ERA has met all of the requirements to become the 28th Amendment,” said Jimmie Cochran Pratt, co-president of the ERA-NC Alliance, in a statement accompanying the results Monday. “Despite this, it is important that the North Carolina General Assembly ratify the ERA to show its support for the women of our state.”

Meredith Poll Director David McLennan said opposition in the General Assembly is increasingly out of touch with public sentiment as measured by continued polling.

Among the results of the college’s latest polling:

  • A large majority (71.5%) support the Equal Rights Amendment and 13.5% oppose it, compared to 67.4 (support) and 16.9% (oppose) when the Meredith Poll asked the same question in 2019.
  • Support for passing the ERA is high with just about every demographic group, with only those with less than a high school education and those who self-identify as “very conservative” at approval levels of less than 50%.
  • Nearly 80% of respondents support the North Carolina General Assembly giving citizens the right to vote on an amendment to the state constitution that would spell out the categories of citizens that should be protected by it.

“Despite strong public support and organized lobbying on behalf of the ERA, legislators seem unwilling to give a bill ratifying this amendment a fair hearing,” McLennan said. “There are some in the legislature who believe that the time for ERA’s passage is in the past and others with principled opposition to the amendment. However, given the perception that women continue to face discrimination in North Carolina, having the debate and vote on the amendment could send a powerful message that equality is important for all.”

The full report on the poll, including information about methodology, is available here. 

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New Meredith College poll looks at views on discrimination, Equal Rights Amendment