But is it true? Not according to a new study from a pair of University of Pennsylvania researchers.
In “The Rise of Trump, the Fall of Prejudice?” sociologists Daniel Hopkins and Samantha Washington found that since the 2016 campaign and election, “white Americans’ expressed anti-Black and anti-Hispanic prejudice declined.”
According to the Spectator, the researchers expected to find what organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center had seemingly endlessly reported: that Trump’s election resulted in an explosion of hate.
“Yet the study found exactly the opposite,” as the 2,500 Americans which the researchers had been following since 2008 indicated a “sharp dive” in racist attitudes that was “statistically significant.”
Moreover, contrary to their expectations, the fall was as evident among Republican voters as it was among Democrats. There was also a general fall in anti-Hispanic prejudice, too, although this was more evident among Democrat voters.
So has Trump actually been a good thing for race relations in the US, and if so, why? The University of Pennsylvania study is a little shy on this point, but raises the theory that people have found Trump’s pronouncements on migrants, Mexicans and so on to be so reprehensible that it has inspired them to think about their own attitudes. It is possible, they write ‘that Trump’s rhetoric clariﬁed anti-racist norms….given that the declines in prejudice appear concentrated in the period after Trump’s election, it seems quite plausible that it was not simply Trump’s rhetoric but also his accession to the presidency that pushed public opinion in the opposite direction’.
Hopkins and Washington also speculate that factors from the last decade (the election of the country’s first black president and attention to police shootings of blacks) could be at play, or that Donald Trump simply served to “clarif[y] anti-racist norms.”
The Spectator’s Ross Clark wonders if Barack Obama’s presence in the White House “brought out in the inner racist” in many, but now the “reassuring sight of white man back in the Oval Office” has calmed them down.
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