One year after far-right, white supremacy violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, killed Heather Heyer, a new poll shows most think that race relations are worse under President Donald Trump. Trump has been criticized as being racist many times in his presidency, including when he did not call out white supremacy forcefully following last year's Charlottesville rally. Then, Trump declined to denounce the far-right violence and instead condemned "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," following up that "there is blame on both sides" for the violence.
The Politico/Morning Consult poll, which was conducted during the first week of August, leading up to both the anniversary of the first Charlottesville rally and this year's follow-up rally in D.C., found that 55 percent of Americans think that race relations have worsened — and only 16 percent think they've improved — under President Trump. Another 18 percent say they've remained the same over the course of Trump's administration. In comparison, the public was tied 37 percent to 37 percent in the same poll as to whether President Barack Obama had improved race relations or made them worse. 17 percent of people said race relations remained the same under Obama.
When you break the Politico/Morning Consult results down, there is a clear divide in opinions between Republicans and Democrats. Only 25 percent of Republicans say that race relations have deteriorated under Trump, with a larger number, 35 percent, saying they actually got better. Another 29 percent thought they remained the same.
On the other hand, Democrats told pollsters they thought race relations had gotten worse under Trump by a large margin; some 82 percent felt so, compared to just 4 percent who didn't. Independents were closer to the mainstream response than either party was. Some 55 percent of independents felt that race relations had gotten worse, compared to just 13 percent who say they have improved.
Of all segments of society — apart from Republicans — there are very view among which less than half think that race relations have worsened under Trump. Notably, gender doesn't seem to make much of a difference, nor does income, or age up to the over-65 bracket.
Those 65 and older are slightly less convinced — only 48 percent think that race relations under Trump have gotten worse. This follows a trend: Trump tends to have more support among older voters, and it seems that the other groups in which less than 50 percent of people think that race relations have gotten worse are also somewhat proxies for the president's base.
There are some differences based on other identity categories. Protestants and evangelical Christians are less likely than Christians as a whole or other religious groups to see race relations as worsening. So are rural Americans; there, just 43 percent think that race relations have worsened, compared to 59 percent in suburban areas and 64 percent in urban.
The one demographic that Trump carried in 2016 that did think that race relations are worsening is the white demographic, barely. Some 51 precent of these voters thought it was worsening — significantly below Hispanic voters with 60 percent or African-American voters with 79 percent.
With a follow-up to the Charlottesville rally approaching this weekend, the nation will be watching to see how President Trump handles it. Based on these results, it's an easy assumption that many people don't entirely trust his nuance on race relations in this situation.