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Among Princeton students, affirmative action generally popular

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Graphic by Katelyn Ryu / The Daily Princetonian

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling that affirmative action is unconstitutional, the issue has been debated extensively. Using data taken from the 2024, 2025, and 2026 Frosh Surveys by The Daily Princetonian, an analysis shows that students generally support affirmative action, most strongly among Black and Latine students, wealthier students, and left-leaning students.

More than twice as many members of the Class of 2026 described themselves as being somewhat or strongly favorable towards affirmative action than somewhat or strongly unfavorable.

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For the Class of 2026, affirmative action was least popular amongst Asian students; over 30 percent of Asians described themselves as viewing affirmative action somewhat or strongly unfavorably. In contrast, less than 17 percent of white students and 5.3 percent of Black students viewed it similarly unfavorably, with no Black respondents viewing affirmative action strongly unfavorably. 



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Affirmative action is also overall more popular among wealthier students, though there is variation by income bracket. A higher percentage of students whose families make over $500,000 per year view the policy favorably than students whose families make under $80,000 per year. Affirmative action is popular among students whose families make between $250,000 and $500,000 per year, with 52.9 percent of those respondents viewing it somewhat or strongly favorably. Students whose families make over $500,000 per year viewed it similarly positively, with 50.9 percent of respondents in that category viewing it viewing it somewhat or strongly favorably.



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Not surprisingly, political affiliation is perhaps the best indicator of views on affirmative action. Only 8% of students who described their political views as very right-leaning view affirmative action somewhat favorably, no respondents with very right-leaning political views view affirmative action strongly favorably. In contrast, 70.6% of students who described their political views as very left-leaning viewed affirmative action as either somewhat or strongly favorably.



Over the course of three years surveyed, affirmative action has become less popular. Over 56 percent of the Class of 2024 described themselves as viewing affirmative action somewhat or strongly favorably. There was a dip for the Class of 2025: 48.1 percent of respondents felt the same. The number stayed relatively constant at 47.3 percent for the Class of 2026. Unfavorable ratings also creeped up: 20.6 percent of the Class of 2026 viewed affirmative action somewhat or strongly unfavorably as opposed to 17.6 percent of the class of 2024. ” The percentage of students who indicated they did not have enough information to form a strong opinion on the policy increased every year from the Classes of 2024 to 2026. 

According to Pew, the general public may be considerably more negative about affirmative action. Nationally, half of adults view affirmative action unfavorably, while only a third support it.

Two of the three justices who voted in favor of affirmative action, Justice Sonia Sotomayor ’76 and Justice Elena Kagan ’81, are Princeton alumnae. In her dissent, Sotomayor described the strikedown as “entrenching racial inequality in education.” One Princeton alum, Justice Samuel Alito ’72, voted with the majority against affirmative action. 

Suthi Navaratnam-Tomayko is an assistant Data editor for the ‘Prince.’

Please send corrections to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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