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Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 in 2016 Presidential Election, Bigotry, Politics, Race | 23 comments

Yes, half of Trump supporters are racist

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BALTIMORE — Hillary Clinton may have been unwise to say half of Donald Trump’s supporters are racists and other “deplorables.” But she wasn’t wrong.

If anything, when it comes to Trump’s racist support, she might have low-balled the number.

Trump, speaking to the National Guard Association of the United States’ annual conference here Monday afternoon, proclaimed himself “deeply shocked and alarmed” about Clinton putting half of his supporters in the “basket of deplorables” — as if anybody, especially Trump, could be shocked by anything this late in the campaign. How dare she, Trump said, “attack, slander, smear, demean these wonderful, amazing people.”

But this isn’t a matter of gratuitous name-calling. This election has proved that there is much more racism in America than many believed. It came out of hiding in opposition to the first African-American president, and it has been welcomed into the open by Trump.

The American National Election Studies, the long-running, extensive poll of American voters, asked voters in 2012 a basic test of prejudice: to rank black and white people on a scale from hardworking to lazy and from intelligent to unintelligent. The researchers found that 62 percent of white people gave black people a lower score in at least one of the attributes. This was a jump in prejudicial attitudes from 2008, when 45 percent of white people expressed negative stereotypes.

This question is a good indicator of how one votes: Republican Mitt Romney won 61 percent of those who expressed negative stereotypes. And, when the question was asked during the 2008 primaries, those with negative racial stereotypes consistently favored Republican candidates — any of them — over any Democratic candidate in hypothetical matchups.

“There is plenty of overt white prejudice,” observes Simon Jackman, who directed the ANES until earlier this year and now runs the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. “Whites who reported prejudicial beliefs about blacks skewed heavily Republican in 2008 and 2012 — and they will in 2016.”

Clinton’s infelicitous “basket of deplorables” phrase takes its place alongside Romney’s “binders full of women” in the awkward pantheon and could only have been devised by a woman who previously gave the world “ladders of opportunity.” But for the large number of racists drawn to Trump, the shoe fits.

In June, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of Clinton voters believe the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities is an important issue, while only 42 percent of Trump supporters feel that way. Earlier Pew research found that Trump supporters were significantly less likely than other Americans to think that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States.

Research by Washington Post pollsters and by University of California at Irvine political scientist Michael Tesler, among others, have found that Trump does best among Americans who express racial animus. Evidence indicates fear that white people are losing ground was the single greatest predictor of support for Trump — more, even, than economic anxiety.

Few people embrace the “racist” label, so let’s help them. If you are “very enthusiastic” about a candidate who has based his campaign on scapegoating immigrants, Latinos and African-Americans, talked of banning Muslims from the country, hesitated to disown the Ku Klux Klan and employed anti-Semitic imagery — well, you might be a racist. But if you are holding your nose and supporting Trump only because you think him better than Clinton, that doesn’t put you in the basket.

The new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the two groups roughly equal: Forty-six percent of Trump supporters say they are “very enthusiastic” about his candidacy. The rest were “somewhat” or not terribly enthusiastic.

There were mostly the latter at the National Guard gathering in Baltimore. Donny Crandell, a pastor from Nevada who serves as a National Guard chaplain, figured the audience was 70-30 for Trump, but with few of the “deplorables.” Said Crandell: “I don’t think you’ll find a lot of military types who are core Trump fans. They just like him better than her.” That includes Crandell, who backed Ted Cruz and would prefer Marco Rubio to Trump, whose “meanness” offends Crandell. “But he’s the choice we have,” the chaplain told me.

Trump, on stage, rejected any notion of racism, saying people who want secure borders “are not racists,” people who warn of “radical Islamic terrorism are not Islamophobes” and people who support police “are not prejudiced.” But moments later, he repeated the campaign slogan he borrowed from an anti-Semitic organization that opposed involvement in World War II.

“America First — remember that,” he said. “America First.”

That’s deplorable.


Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.(c) 2016, Washington Post Writers Group

photo credit: Donald Trump via photopin (license)

  • Gee! And the sky is blue!

  • JSpencer

    All the faux offense in the world doesn’t change the fact that Hillary was correct in her description. Bottom line for me is the truth, regardless of how much or how often it gets thrown into the spin cycle.

  • Slamfu

    Trump, on stage, rejected any notion of racism, saying people who want secure borders “are not racists”

    Yea, it’s not that. We all want secure borders. The people we are talking about are the ones who are asking for a wall while screaming “Kill the wetbacks!” at your rally and being cheered on by everyone else there while you give them a thumbs up, Mr. Trump. And there are lots of them. Also, the ones dropping the N-bomb left and right and talking about “stringing up” Obama, them too. Those folks make up a shocking percentage of your base Mr. Trump, and certainly the participants at your rallies.

  • The only positive thing about Trump’s candidicy that it has exposed a very large block of racist Americans. We always knew racism was/is a problem, but I really did not think that there were so many radically racist extremist Americans…and yes, they are Trump voters.

    Camera cell phones and Donald Trump…. We still have a massive massive race problem in America.

  • SDB

    I can’t stand Trump. He is an embarrassment. But I will pull that lever so grudgingly, for a conservative Supreme Court. I am not a Trump supporter, nor do I believe I am a racist, at least I hope not. I know Trump has his supporters. There is something in his message that resonates way beyond implied racism. I actually believe he is far more of a misogynist than a racist. But the man does not define his party or his supporters. If I were to apply the same logic here to the Democrats, would I be correct in stating that HRC supporters are dishonest liars, more concerned with power and influence than genuine decency? I don’t think that generality applies to her supporters or the party. I ma dismayed that to vocal minority of undesirables which may appear to make up a block of Trump supporters are seen as defining all those who support his candidacy. Just my take on things.

    • JSpencer

      Don’t kid yourself, if you pull the lever for Trump then you are indeed a “Trump supporter”.

      • SDB

        I expected more from you Spence. I expected you to understand and respect the difference between being a Trump supporter and being a Conservative (two diametrically opposed ideals). Its of little consequence to me to attempt to convince you otherwise of my intentions. I know the truth. You have read several of my posts here. Has anything I have written or defended seem identifiable with Trump? That is not to say I completely disagree with some of his positions, but for the most part that is a rarity indeed. But I have not abandoned the party in spite of the man. That would mean that I let a deplorable individual dictate which party I most closely identify. He would never hold that influence over me. Calling me a Trump Supporter may make you feel better, but I suspect even you know it is not really true, so who is really kidding themselves.

        Cheers my friend
        Headed home – enjoy the weekend.

        • dduck

          Hang in there, SDB.

        • JSpencer

          “I expected more from you Spence.”

          I have no idea what your expectations were, but if you know anything about me at all, then you should know I’m not impressed with rationalizations.

          • SDB

            You crack me up Spence.
            The failure was mine for trying to apply logic and rationale.

          • JSpencer

            “logic and rationale”

            Sorry, it’s hard to keep up with all the new definitions. I have no doubt you believe that’s what you were doing.

          • Hang in there J.S.

            Some of us know the difference between ratioanalization and rationale.

          • dduck

            And 50% of us could use an Edit function.

          • JSpencer

            “Some of us know the difference between rationalization and rationale.”

            It’s easy when you don’t shape definitions to suit your bias. 😉

        • You do realize that no one has any idea of who Trump would pick for the Supreme Court. The man has no stable ideological history. He may be a closet democrat…we really have no idea. Slapping an R behind your name doesn’t make a person a conservative.

          • SDB

            Not true.
            In late Spring, Trump gave a sample of six very conservative Jurists he would consider. I am sure they have not been vetted as of yet because it would be far too premature, but the sample was intended to indicate the level constitutional conservatism.
            The list included:
            Dianne S. Sykes
            Joan Larsen
            Allison H. Eid
            David Stras
            Thomas Rex Lee
            Don Willett

            Oh, and BTW, I do believe he is a closet Dem, at5 least he has been in the past.

          • JSpencer

            “the sample was intended to indicate the level constitutional conservatism”

            …employing the new definitions I presume.

          • SDB

            No.
            That was actually their statement.
            Per the NY Times (May 18)
            Mr. Trump said in a statement that his shortlist was “representative of the kind of constitutional principles I value and, as president, I plan to use this list as a guide to nominate our next United States Supreme Court justices.”

    • dduck

      Mine too, SDB, but voting for HC.
      I never liked broad brushes, they are mostly used to cover the real messages, both good and bad and are wielded by folks of all persuasions.

      • JSpencer

        “I never liked broad brushes, they are mostly used to cover the real messages”

        Actually they are mostly used to fill in large areas of the big picture. All brushes have their place . ; )

        “but voting for HC”

        So you keep saying. ; )

        • dduck

          JS: Actually, the correct brush for the job is the way to go.

          • JSpencer

            So you’re an idealist after all. 😉

          • dduck

            Idealist/pragmatist/realist, actually.

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