A president who ran on a promise to build a border wall and waffled on condemning violent white nationalists probably wouldn’t seem like the leader to improve race relations in the United States. And a new Pew Research poll reflects that, with a majority of Americans — 60 percent — saying that the election of Donald Trump has led to worse race relations in the United States.
What’s striking about this number is who’s saying Trump’s election has strained race relations. Democrats have remained pretty consistent: an overwhelming 81 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners, in November 2016, predicted that Trump’s election would lead to worse race relations. A total of 83 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaners say the same today.
The biggest shift is among Republicans. Only 10 percent of Republicans and Republican leaners thought Trump entering office would worsen race relations. Now, a full quarter of GOPers — 25 percent — say Trump’s election has diminished race relations. And only 17 percent say Trump’s election has improved race relations; that’s down from nearly half — 48 percent — who said Trump’s election would make race relations better.
Still, a majority of Republicans responded by saying there’s been no change in race relations since Trump’s election. It’s also fair to point out that Republicans took a similarly dismal view of Obama’s effect on race relations: In November 2009, 25 percent said Obama’s election had led to deteriorating relations — the same amount as those saying Trump has worsened race relations.
Pew surveyed 1,503 adults between November 29 and December 4 for the poll. The results highlight the divide that still exists between Republicans and Democrats on Trump. But it also reveals a growing bipartisan sentiment that the Trump administration marks a step backward on race relations.
Over all, Americans’ views on race relations have become more negative since Obama’s inauguration in 2009. About 66 percent said race relations were generally good in January 2009. Almost a decade later, in December 2017, the number who say race relations are generally good is only at 38 percent. The majority — 56 percent — now take a negative view.