Political News

Virtually no one thinks Trump has discouraged white supremacists

Posted August 23

Yes, it's true President Donald Trump has now explicitly condemned white supremacy groups -- but virtually no one in the United States thinks his comments and behavior have actually discouraged any white supremacist groups.

A mere 3% of American voters in a new Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday say Trump's actions as president have discouraged white supremacists.

"I said everything. I hit him with neo-Nazi. I hit them with everything. I got the white supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there, let's say. KKK, we have KKK. I got them all," Trump said at a Phoenix rally Tuesday night, a reference to how he said he effectively called out hate groups by name.

Just more than a third of American voters (35%) say Trump hasn't had an impact on white supremacist groups, and six in 10 voters (59%) say he's encouraged them. A majority of that group says he's encouraged them deliberately rather than accidentally.

"I spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK," Trump continued Tuesday.

In his initial comments on the day of the August 12 violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump declined to call out racist groups by name, instead condemning bigotry and violence "on many sides." He later called out white nationalists by name two days later, but, in any angry news conference August 15, he blamed "both sides," adding that he was "not putting anybody on a moral plane."

Three-quarters of Republican voters (74%) said Trump's behavior hasn't "had an impact either way" on how white supremacists feel. About two in 10 of them (18%) say Trump encouraged them. Meanwhile, nine in 10 Democrats say they think Trump encouraged white supremacists with his comments and behavior -- almost two-thirds of Democrats say he did so intentionally.

It's hard to say how mind-bogglingly rare it is to see a number like 3% in a poll question like this. To get a number this low, you need virtual unanimity across all groups: only 6% of Republicans, 4% of people over 65, 3% of whites and 3% of independents said white supremacists were discouraged by Trump's behavior and comments.

For some comparison, in the same survey, 5% of voters said prejudice against minority groups was "not a problem at all" in the US. And 3% of American voters said they "haven't heard enough" about Trump to say if they have a favorable or unfavorable view him. And 2% of voters said they would join the rally if one was held in their town. Heck, 21% said the sun goes around the Earth in a poll last year from NORC at the University of Chicago.

Frankly, a number like 3% is probably more easily confused for a margin of error. (Though it's worth noting, for math reasons, the margin of error shrinks the farther you get from 50%. So the margin of error for this stat is a whopping -1.1 percentage points.)

The rest of the poll didn't get much better for Trump: Twice as many said he's done more to divide the country than divide it, and six in 10 disapproved of his response to the Charlottesville protests and violence.

This new poll from Quinnipiac University was conducted from August 17-22, 2017, among 1,514 registered voters. The margin of error is -3.1 percentage points.

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