Americans conflicted about Bonds' home run chase

Updated: May 16, 2007, 10:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

More than half of baseball fans are rooting against Barry Bonds as he tries to break Hank Aaron's major league home run record of 755, according to an ESPN/ABC News poll.

The survey found that 52 percent of fans hope Bonds doesn't break the record, while 37 percent of fans want him to surpass Aaron's mark, set in 1974.

In addition, 73 percent of fans think Bonds used steroids, despite Bonds' repeated denials. Bonds has never tested positive for steroids.

However, race plays a unique role. Black fans in the survey are more than twice as likely to want Bonds to break Aaron's record (74 percent to 28 percent), and 37 percent of black fans think Bonds used steroids, compared to 76 percent of white fans.

Blacks are nearly twice as likely to think Bonds has been treated unfairly (46 percent to 25 percent). Why? The survey found that 41 percent of black fans think this is due to the steroids issue, 25 percent think it's because of his race, and 21 percent blame Bonds' personality.

For whites who think Bonds has been treated unfairly, 66 percent blame steroids. Virtually none blame race.

Older blacks (50 and over) are less likely to think Bonds took steroids (29 percent) than younger blacks (44 percent). There is no age difference among whites.

Jayson Stark's take
Jayson Stark
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark writes that racial issues are front and center for many Americans as Barry Bonds chases the all-time home run record. Column

A majority of fans -- 58 percent -- think Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame. That's 10 points higher than a similar poll conducted last summer. Among blacks, 85 percent think Bonds belongs in Cooperstown, compared to 53 percent of whites. Also, 78 percent of blacks think Bonds should be recognized as the home run leader, compared to 53 percent of whites.

Younger white fans are 15 points more likely than older white fans to recognize Bonds as the home run leader as well as putting him in the Hall of Fame.

The ESPN/ABC News poll was conducted by telephone March 29-April 22, 2007, among a random national sample of 799 adult baseball fans, including an oversample of 203 African-Americans. The results have a 3.5-point error margin among all respondents, seven points among blacks.

ESPN/ABC News Poll Results

1. Are you a fan of professional baseball or not?

  Net Yes Yes, somewhat (vol.) No
4/22/07 36 43 2 64
Blacks 26 24 2 74
Whites 39 36 3 61


2. (AMONG FANS ONLY) As you may know, the baseball player Barry Bonds has been accused of using steroids, which he's denied. Just your best guess, do you think Bonds did or did not knowingly use steroids?

  Did Did Not No Opinion
4/22/07 73 14 13
Blacks 37 36 26
Whites 76 12 11
7/19/06 80 12 8
3/15/05 65 16 19


3. (AMONG FANS ONLY; IF DID, Q2) Do you think that (makes him a cheater), or do you think it (is O.K. because major league baseball was not testing for steroids at the time)?

  Makes him a cheater OK, no testing at the time No Opinion
4/22/07 67 29 4
(Insufficient sample size for racial comparison)


2/3 NET: Did knowingly use steroids

  Net Makes him a cheater OK, no testing at the time No Opinion Did not knowingly use steroids No Opinion
4/22/07 73 49 21 3 14 13
(Insufficient sample size for racial comparison)


4. (AMONG FANS ONLY) Bonds is number two behind Hank Aaron in career home runs. (Are you rooting for Bonds to break) the home-run record, or (do you hope Bonds falls short of) it?

  Rooting Falls short No opinion
4/22/07 37 52 11
Blacks 74 18 9
Whites 28 60 12
10/18/06* 33 48 19
*AP/AOL/Ipsos


5. (AMONG FANS ONLY) If Bonds does pass Aaron, do you think Bonds should or should not be recognized as the new career home-run leader?

  Yes No Depends (vol.) No opinion
4/22/07 57 34 4 5
Blacks 78 15 1 5
Whites 53 36 5 6


6. (AMONG FANS ONLY) Do you think Bonds should or should not be elected to the baseball Hall of Fame?

  Should Should not No opinion
4/22/07 58 33 8
Blacks 85 10 5
Whites 53 37 10
7/19/06 48 47 4


7. (AMONG FANS ONLY) Overall, do you think Bonds has been treated fairly or unfairly?

  Fairly Unfairly No opinion
4/22/07 57 30 13
Blacks 34 46 20
Whites 61 25 14


8. (AMONG FANS ONLY; IF UNFAIRLY, Q7) Do you think he's been treated unfairly mainly because of his (race), mainly because of his (personality), or mainly because of his (alleged use of steroids)?

  Race Personality Alleged use of steroids Any two (vol.) All three (vol.) No opinion
4/22/07 10 28 56 3 2 Less than .5%
Blacks 27 21 41 5 5 1
Whites 1 26 66 4 3 0


7/8 NET: Unfairly

  Fairly Net Race Personality Steroids Two/three No Opinion
4/22/07 57 30 3 8 17 2 13
Blacks 34 46 12 10 19 5 20
Whites 61 26 Less than .5 percent 7 17 2 14