A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that a growing number of Americans think President Donald Trump has contributed to a more hateful atmosphere in the U.S., and many think he's deliberately encouraged hate groups. Nearly two-thirds of Americans said they believe that the level of hatred and prejudice have gone up since President Donald Trump entered office in January.
Researchers polled 1,514 voters across the nation between August 17 and 22. The data was collected on the heels of widespread criticism of Trump's refusal to unequivocally condemn this month's white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, and just before Trump suggested he would pardon former sheriff Joe Arpaio in an off-script tirade in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. Arpaio, a longtime Trump supporter, was convicted last month of failing to obey a judge's order to end his practice of racially profiling Latinos in Maricopa County, Arizona; the ACLU called Trump's hint at pardoning him "an official endorsement of racism."
Thirty-two percent of respondents said the level of hatred in U.S. public life has not changed since Trump was inaugurated, while two percent stated that it has improved.
The survey's findings correspond with the Southern Poverty Law Center's most recent report on the rise of hate groups in the U.S. In February the group found that the number of these groups "rose for a second year in a row in 2016 as the radical right was energized by the candidacy of Donald Trump...The most dramatic growth was the near-tripling of anti-Muslim hate groups—from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year."
Nearly 60 percent of Americans surveyed by Quinnipiac said they felt Trump's actions and decisions had encouraged white supremacists like the ones who gathered in Charlottesville, and 61 percent said his encouragement of hate groups had been deliberate.
When asked if bigotry is a major issue for minority groups in the U.S. today, 50 percent said it was a "very serious" problem. Among Republicans, more respondents said they were more concerned about prejudice toward white people than toward minority groups—25 percent versus 21 percent.
Poll-takers also asked respondents to share the first word that came to mind when they thought of Trump. The word "strong" was the most-reported word, with 64 votes—but far more respondents came up with negative words as their first choices.
The rest of the top five most-reported words were "idiot" (59 votes), "incompetent" (58), "liar" (50), and "president" (49), while the sixth-most common word was "racist," with 29 votes.