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.
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.
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. As I wrote previously, earlier Pew research found that Trump supporters were significantly less likely than other Americans (and supporters of other Republican presidential candidates) to think that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States.