Politics & Government

Blacks, whites and Latinos agree: Race relations are getting worse under Trump

African-Americans, whites and Latinos are united in their pessimism about the current and future state of race relations under President Donald Trump, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

More than half of Americans believe race relations in the country have worsened over the last year and will continue to deteriorate under Trump.

The poll found that 51 percent of registered voters think relations have gotten worse while only 10 percent think they have improved. And voters don’t have much hope that things will get better with Trump in the White House: Fifty-one percent also said they expect relations to worsen under Trump.

This gloomy outlook spans racial lines, according to Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which conducted the national survey. Sixty percent of Latinos, 57 percent of African-Americans and 50 percent of whites think relations have gotten worse over the last year.

“Usually, it’s a different response from different groups,” Miringoff said. “But it’s practically uniform among blacks, whites and Latinos that it will deteriorate.”

There’s little optimism about the future. Among African-Americans, 73 percent said race relations would worsen under Trump, 9 percent said things would improve and 12 percent said they expected relations to remain the same.

“I’m not sure if everything is going to be OK or not,” said Tessie Ross, 70, an African-American Democrat from Overton, Texas. “I got a feeling that (Trump) is a little bit prejudiced. I’m not sure where he’ll stand, if he starts taking away rights. I’m trying to save my judgments and see what he does.”

Sixty-four percent of Latinos said race relations would get worse, 19 percent said they would improve and 13 percent think nothing will change. Their grim outlook is fueled in part by Trump’s recent executive orders on immigration and refugees and his campaign vow to build a giant wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, Miringoff said.


Forty-eight percent of white voters thought race relations will worsen under Trump, 29 percent said they would improve and 20 percent don’t expect relations to change under Trump.

“I think we’ve come a long way, but there’s always room for more understanding on both sides,” said Mary Bailes, 62, a white moderate conservative voter from Boca Raton, Florida. “There definitely has to be more conversations, empathy, definitely.”

By political affiliation, 79 percent of Democrats expected race relations to worsen under Trump, only 6 percent said things will improve and 12 percent said things would stay about the same.

Republicans voters offered a more optimistic view: Sixty-three percent said race relations would improve under Trump, 22 percent predicted no change and 12 percent think relations will get worse.

“I pray that things do get better,” said Sandra Church, a 50-year-old white independent voter from Dillon, South Carolina. “But that’s not saying they will.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., told McClatchy that America is “moving in the right direction” when it comes to race relations while also “hitting potholes along the way.”

“Obviously, there’s more polarization than we’ve seen in recent decades, probably,” said Scott, whose state has been rocked in recent years by the racially motivated slayings of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston and a debate over flying the Confederate flag.

“That’s probably more the manifestations of the challenges that have been unearthed. . . . I think you’ll see tremendous gains in the years to come. But there’s no question that there’s a certain level of distrust that is palpable that perhaps was not as evident before, and we’re all going to have to be responsible for defusing some of those challenges.”

Trump won 8 percent of the African-American vote and 29 percent of the Latino vote in last year’s election, a contest in which race played heavily.

He called former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, “a great divider” and argued that “race relations now are as bad as they’ve ever been.”

Trump riled many African-American voters by calling their neighborhoods “ghettos” and suggesting that cities with large African-American populations, like Philadelphia and Cleveland, were places where large-scale voter fraud would likely occur.

He also made overtures to African-American voters, outlining a so-called “New Deal for Black America” in an October campaign speech in Charlotte, North Carolina, and saying he would help strengthen historically black colleges and universities.

His pitch to African-American voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?”

Samantha Calixtro, 26, an independent voter from Weatherford, Texas, hopes that Trump is able to bridge racial divides. But she also said it was going to take more than the man in the White House to make race relations better.

“It’s kind of up to us as people that need to unite,” she said. “Hopefully, we teach our children, just raise them to think that we’re all equal.”

William Douglas: 202-383-6026, @williamgdouglas

Donovan Harrell: 202-383-6044, @dono_harrell

How the survey was conducted

This survey of 1,073 adults was conducted Feb. 15-19 by The Marist Poll, sponsored and funded in partnership with McClatchy. People 18 years and older residing in the contiguous U.S. were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. Landline telephone numbers were randomly selected based on a list of telephone exchanges from throughout the nation from ASDE Survey Sampler Inc. The exchanges were selected to ensure that each region was represented in proportion to its population. Respondents in the household were randomly selected by first asking for the youngest male. This landline sample was combined with respondents reached through random dialing of cellphone numbers from Survey Sampling International. After the interviews were completed, the two samples were combined and balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey one-year estimates for age, gender, income, race and region. Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. There are 865 registered voters. The results for this subset are statistically significant within ±3.3 percentage points. The error margin was not adjusted for sample weights and increases for cross-tabulations.