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The Uncanny Similarity Between the Zimmerman and 2012 Exit Polls

The first wave of polls on the Zimmerman verdict are in and the results look familiar. Pew Research asked adults whether they were "satisfied" or "dissatisfied" with the Zimmerman verdict and the results were strikingly similar to the last presidential election. Compare today's poll on the Zimmerman verdict with Pew's final poll of the 2012 presidential campaign. When it comes to the national result, race, gender, and age, the differences between the presidential race and the Zimmerman trial are negligible and largely within the margin of error. 

That's not to say there aren't differences. Perhaps predictably, the Zimmerman verdict is less partisan and less ideological than a partisan and ideological presidential campaign. Nonetheless, liberals and Democrats break clearly for Obama and dissatisfaction with the Zimmerman verdict, while conservatives and Republicans clearly break the other way.

Perhaps the most interesting differences between presidential preferences and the Zimmerman verdict are within white voters. While the last presidential election was characterized by a big education gap, whites with a college degree are more satisfied with the Zimmerman verdict than they were with Romney's presidential campaign. Similarly, the traditional gap between Southern and non-Southern whites is missing in the Zimmerman case; Northeasterners and Midwesterners have similar views to their Southern counterparts. Instead, the big gap is between the West and the eastern two-thirds of the country. One possible explanation: there are very few blacks in the western United States. According to the Census, blacks are 5 percent of the West's population, compared to 20 percent of the South, 12 percent of the Northeast, and 10 percent of the Midwest.