Twenty years after the start of the O.J. Simpson murder case, attitudes towards Simpson and towards race relations in the country have dramatically changed, according to a new national poll.
Monday night’s release of the CNN/ORC International survey comes just a few days before 20th anniversary of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson, the former football star and actor’s ex-wife, and of Ronald Goldman. The case against Simpson and the ensuing more than eight-month-long criminal trial, dubbed the “trial of the century,” engrossed the nation. Simpson was eventually acquitted.
According to CNN polling in 1994, a large majority of whites thought Simpson was guilty, but six in ten African-Americans believed that the charges against Simpson were not true, a belief that persisted throughout the murder trial and its aftermath.
Twenty years later, the new CNN/ORC poll indicates there has been a turnaround in attitudes towards the former football star, with a majority of blacks (53%) now saying that the murder charges against Simpson were true. The ten percentage point margin between those who said the charges against Simpson were true and those who said they were not true was within the survey’s sampling error for African-Americans.
A CNN/ORC poll conducted in 2007 also found that a majority of black respondents thought Simpson was guilty. There were no CNN surveys of African-American opinions on the Simpson case from the end of 1995 until 2007.
“The belief among whites that Simpson was guilty has grown even more, with nearly nine in ten whites saying the murder charges were true,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.
The percentage of all Americans who say the murder charges against Simpson were true jumped from 66% in 1994 to 83% now.