Americans conflicted about Bonds' home run chase

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.

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