Study: Trump Is Dividing Americans

Written by Nadja Linke, Common Cause intern, on December 11, 2017

Nearly half of Americans (46%) now say President Trump’s policies pose a greater threat to the nation than those of either major political party, according to a national poll released last week.

The annual American Value Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) found that Trump widens the usual gap between Republicans and Democrats but that GOP voters have more confidence in him than in their party generally. More than six in 10 Republicans favor Trump as their party’s nominee in the 2020 election.

Trump’s levels of approval vary greatly with the education, gender and ethnicity of those polled. The president’s fiercest supporters are still white male evangelical Protestants; overall, half of white Americans approve of his actions, followed by 27 percent of Hispanics. African-Americans are least supportive of Trump; only one in 10 say he is doing a good job.

The results were presented at an event last week at the Brookings Institution in Washington by PRRI founder and CEO Robert P. Jones. “The data proves, his presidency undoubtedly has widened the gap between Americans,” he said.

“White Americans support him, because he fed right into their fears,” said Henry Olsen, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and the only Republican on a Brookings panel that discussed the results. “For many, protecting Christian values in times of ISIS and rising immigration numbers is a key issue only Trump addressed in his campaign. He addressed their economic and social uncertainty.”

Joy Reid, political analyst and MSNBC host, agreed with Olsen’s assessment. “The people who voted for Obama, were Obama only voters and not necessarily Democrats. With Trump it’s the same. They wanted a white president who represented their identity.”

Other panelists put Trump’s success in context as part of a worldwide movement in the world. “Look at Europe. Look at Le Pen and the rise of the AfD in Germany. People feel their nations identity is challenged by immigration and therefore turn to someone, who can reassure them,” Jones said.

But as divided as we are, Americans in both parties still have major areas of agreement. Reducing healthcare costs should be the highest priority for President Trump, almost half the public (46%), said. Both Republicans (41%) and Democrats (51%), want Congress and the president to find a way to cut costs. And in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against politicians from both side of the partisan aisle, most Democrats (77%) and Republicans (59%) think of it as “part of a broader pattern.”


Office: Common Cause National

Issues: More Democracy Reforms

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