Is President Donald Trump actually making Americans less racist? According to one surprised researcher, racial prejudice has decreased since the 2016 election.
Multiple studies have shown hate crimes and bullying have increased since Trump announced his presidential campaign nearly four years ago, especially in counties that hosted his campaign rallies or backed him in the election, but a new study turned up surprising results, reported the Washington Post.
Political scientist Daniel Hopkins, of the University of Pennsylvania, believes his team’s findings shows Trump had emboldened a small number of racists while pushing more whites to reject prejudice.
“It’s quite conceivable that Trump has simultaneously galvanized a small number of highly prejudiced white Americans while also pushing millions more to affirm that they are not as prejudiced,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins, a specialist in race and political behavior, concedes his study accounts only for professed bias and not concrete actions.
Hopkins and an undergraduate student, Samantha Washington, surveyed a group of white Americans, 57 percent of whom voted for Trump. That figure was 62 percent among white men.
They conducted interviews of 20,000 people five times between 2007 and 2008, and some of those participants were interviewed eight more times, most recently in November 2018.
They expected participants might feel more comfortable expressing racist beliefs after Trump’s election, but instead found they had actually moved away from bigoted views expressed by the president and his supporters.
“We primarily find declining prejudice and racial resentment, and certainly no increases,” their report states.
Anti-black prejudice declined over the 12-year period of the study, and a particularly noticeable drop between November 2016 and November 2018.
The effect was only slightly more pronounced among Democrats, compared to Republicans, and education was not a notable factor.
Anti-Hispanic prejudice also declined between Trump’s election and the fall of 2018, but there was a small increase in professed bigotry among Republicans between 2012 and 2018.
“The decline was apparently not driven by Trump’s candidacy — or by white Americans’ reactions to his campaign rhetoric in 2015 and 2016 — but instead by their reactions to his presidency itself,” the paper argues.