New polling indicates most Americans believe prejudice in the nation has increased following the election of President Donald Trump. The poll also signaled that a majority of Americans view Trump's rhetoric as divisive, particularly his response to violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
On Aug. 23, a Quinnipiac University survey found that 35 percent of national adults approved of Trump's job performance while 59 percent disapproved. Only 31 percent of respondents approved of Trump's handling of race relations while 63 percent disapproved.
On the issue of racial animosity, 55 percent of national adults said that there was too much prejudice in America while 40 percent asserted that the problem was too much "political correctness." Of respondents, 65 percent believed the level of prejudice in the country had increased since Trump assumed office. The poll found 32 percent believe prejudice across the nation had remained the same while 2 percent believed it had decreased.
The poll found that the majority of adults were upset by how Trump had handled the controversy in Charlottesville.
On Aug. 11, members of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi movement and the "alt-right" gathered at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to protest the removal of a monument to a Confederate figure from the Civil War. The crowd marched through the university campus with torches and chanted racial epithets. On Aug. 12, the white nationalists staged a rally in the college town, clashing with counter-protesters, The Washington Post reports.
The hostilities culminated in death when alt-right member James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly plowed his car through a crowd of anti-racist counter-protesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured. Virginia State Troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke M.M. Bates also died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the scene.
That day, Trump spoke out against the rally violence from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. The president drew criticism for stating that he condemned the "hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides -- on many sides."
On Aug. 14, Trump gave another statement that specifically condemned the white nationalists who had held the rally.
"Racism is evil," Trump said from the White House, reports Vice. "And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans."
On Aug. 15, Trump ignited controversy when he asserted during a White House press conference that the counter-protesters in Charlottesville shared equal blame with the white nationalists.
"You had a group on the other side that came charging in -- without a permit -- and they were very, very violent," Trump said.
The president also asserted that some participants in the white nationalist rally were not racist.
"You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK?" Trump continued. "And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."
The Quinnipiac poll found 64 percent of national adults view white supremacist groups as a national security threat while 34 percent disagreed.
Of those polled, 32 percent approved of Trump's response to the violence in Charlottesville while 60 percent disapproved. Of respondents, 59 percent believed that Trump's actions had encouraged white nationalist groups, 35 percent said they had no effect and 3 percent believed that Trump had discouraged white supremacists.