These two polls show that substantial numbers of Trump voters did not reject or disapprove of the use of this racial slur:
Few Trump voters think that using the n-word makes whites racist, just 42 percent find the slur offensive, and only a quarter wouldn’t vote for a candidate who said it. By contrast, more than three-quarters of people who voted for Hillary Clinton think the n-word is offensive, racist and should disqualify political candidates who have said it.
The new partisan polarization on the n-word
Even a few years ago, Democrats and Republicans didn’t disagree much about the n-word. But the graphs below show the growing partisan polarization:
In a 2006 CNN/ORC poll, 55 percent of Democrats and 49 percent of Republicans said that the n-word was offensive. By 2018, that narrow gap had widened. More Democrats (75 percent) find the n-word offensive. Meanwhile, fewer Republicans (43 percent) do.
Likewise, the percentage of Democrats who now say it’s never acceptable for whites to use the n-word increased from 71 percent in 2015 to 84 percent in 2018. But the percentage of Republicans decreased from 65 percent to 57 percent.
These large shifts among Democrats have made the country less tolerant of the n-word. The percentage of Americans who find the n-word offensive increased from 49 percent in 2006 to 53 percent in 2018. The percentage of Americans who think it’s at least sometimes acceptable for whites to use the n-word dropped from 25 percent in 2015 to 15 percent in 2018.
The upshot is intensified identity politics. If there is a video showing Trump using the n-word, it would probably only exacerbate this polarization over race and ethnicity — and the resulting American identity crisis.