The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
There's been a great deal of hysteria, innocent of actual data, about a purported massive rise of racism and prejudice under, and because of, Donald Trump. Trump's divisive rhetoric is deeply regrettable, and may have helped inspire particular violent racist incidents related to immigration, even if the perpetrators weren't Trump fans. Regardless, the overall rate of prejudice among white Americans has fortunately continued it's long-term decline, according to this study by grad students Daniel J. Hopkins and Samantha Washington:
In his campaign and first few years in office, Donald Trump consistently defied contemporary norms by using explicit, negative rhetoric targeting ethnic/racial minorities. Did this rhetoric lead white Americans to express more prejudiced views of African Americans or Hispanics, whether through the normalization of prejudice or other mechanisms? We assess that question using a 13-wave panel conducted with a population-based sample of Americans between 2008 and 2018. We find that via most measures, white Americans' expressed anti-Black and anti-Hispanic prejudice declined after the 2016 campaign and election, and we can rule out even small increases in the expression of prejudice. These results suggest the limits of racially charged rhetoric's capacity to heighten prejudice among white Americans overall. They also indicate that prejudice can behave like an issue attitude: rather than being a fixed predisposition, prejudice can respond thermostatically to changing presidential rhetoric and policy positions.