Political News

Democrats and Republicans are divided on whether Trump is dividing them

Posted January 17, 2018 1:54 p.m. EST

— "The Bible tells us," a freshly sworn-in President Trump said during a softer point in his inaugural speech, "how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity."

Nearly a year later, a new Quinnipiac poll suggests that some combination of partisan animosity and Trump's own behavior is dashing that prospect, with Democrats and Republicans splitting wildly when asked whether the President has done more to divide the country than unite it.

By 95% to 3%, Democratic voters say Trump is stirring up new discord. Meanwhile, 70% of Republicans say the opposite -- that he is doing more to unite the country, leaving GOP voters as the only demographic group surveyed that came in north of 50% on that question.

That the Republicans polled here view Trump as a unifying force, an assessment in such stark conflict to the broader results, underlines the depth of the partisan division. GOP voters aside, you could argue that if there's any broad unity among Americans today, it is their belief that Trump has made old political rifts worse.

Did it have to be this way? Then President-elect Trump, after winning one of the most fraught and contentious modern elections, said no, pledging on the eve of his taking office to heal the wounds and hard feelings in his wake.

"We're going to unify our country," Trump said last January 19. "And our phrase, you all know it -- half of you are wearing the hat, 'Make America great again.' But we're going to make America great for all our people, everybody. Everybody throughout our country."

But Trump is deep underwater on the unifier issue among an assortment of demographic groups. At least 60% from each age bracket (18-34, 35-49, 50-64 and 65+) say he is widening political conflict. Overall, 95% of blacks, 76% of Hispanics and 58% of all whites say the same.

It's only among whites without college degrees, one of Trump's most consistent and ardent bases of support, that he's viewed as a unifying figure -- albeit narrowly, at 48% to 46%. He won among those voters, with 66% of them to Hillary Clinton's 29%, in 2016.

Still, tribal division in US politics is hardly Trump's creation, even if his and his administration's conduct has widened the gulf.

Just ask his predecessor.

"It's one of the few regrets of my presidency -- that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better," then-President Barack Obama said during his last State of the Union address.

This poll was conducted January 12-16. Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,212 voters nationwide, with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.