One of the most depressing aspects of the Trump era has been the sense that the United States is becoming less tolerant, empathetic and generous under the influence of President Trump. After all, his supporters elected an openly racist, misogynistic, self-absorbed billionaire whose charitable donations were far less than advertised. Nevertheless, the Public Religion Research Institute’s (PRRI) annual poll had some nuggets of good news that show the United States remains a welcoming and empathetic nation.
For example, a large majority of Americans understand the scourge of sexual harassment against women. “Seven in ten (70%) Americans say that recent stories about women being sexually harassed and assaulted in the workplace are part of a broader pattern of how women are often treated, while about one-quarter (24%) say that they are isolated incidents.” Nevertheless, the partisan gap is worrisome. “More than seven in ten Democrats (77%) and independents (73%) say these stories reflect a broader pattern. Roughly six in ten (59%) Republicans agree.” So score one for awareness of the plight of many women in the workplace.
On immigration, again, Americans depart from Trump and hard-line supporters: “More than seven in ten (72%) Americans — including 63% of Republicans and 81% of Democrats — favor allowing illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children to gain legal resident status if they join the military or go to college. Support for this policy has increased substantially from 57% in 2011.”
Likewise, most Americans don’t like a ban on refugees. “Nearly six in ten (59%) Americans oppose the passage of a law that prevents refugees from entering the U.S., while more than one-third (36%) favor this type of restriction. Opposition to a refugee ban spans racial and ethnic categories. A majority of white (57%), Hispanic (57%), and black Americans (71%) oppose passing a law to prevent refugees from entering the U.S.”
And Americans still oppose the nonsensical proposal for a wall along the border with Mexico:
Public sentiment is similar when it comes to building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. More than six in ten (63%) Americans oppose the construction of a wall along the border, while about one-third (36%) support it.
In the year since Donald Trump’s election, opposition to building a border wall has increased five percentage points, up from 58%.6 At that time, about four in ten (41%) were in favor of building the wall. Notably, among Americans who oppose the wall, the number of those who strongly oppose it has also risen, from 34% last year to 42% today.
Finally, Americans are much less willing to cut ourselves off from the rest of the world than Trump’s protectionist rhetoric would suggest. “More than six in ten (63%) Americans are in favor of promoting free trade, while about three in ten (29%) say the U.S. should place more restrictions on foreign trade,” the report says. “There is little appetite for trade restrictions among most demographic groups.”
To sum up, despite Trump’s nonstop heckling, large percentages of Americans understand that sexual intimidation and threats in the workplace against women are pervasive. Americans remain supportive of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and of free trade, but they’re against the wall. In almost all cases, Republicans are less supportive of minority groups and women and more intent on shutting the United States off from the world. But they are badly outnumbered by their fellow citizens.