About 85 percent of Democrats say Trump is a racist, while 21 percent of Republicans say the same, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,337 adults from Feb. 15 to 19.
Experts say the findings should not come as a surprise, considering the nation’s polarized views on race, as well as Trump’s divisive remarks in crucial moments last year as racial tensions came to a boil. When a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August left a woman dead and several others injured, many in the nation expected the president to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups that organized the rally.
“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” he said at the time. “No one wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now: You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”
The idea that Trump is a racist isn’t new, as he has a history of actions and comments perceived to be discriminatory toward people of color that spans four decades. For example, he was sued by the federal government in the 1970s for turning black tenants away from his buildings. As president, he has continued to question whether Barack Obama, the country’s first black president, was born in the United States.
But this most recent poll shows the highest percentages yet of people saying Trump is a racist.
The White House could not be immediately reached for comment. But Trump on multiple occasions has denied that he is a racist, most recently in January, after he became frustrated with lawmakers in the Oval Office while they discussed protecting immigrants from Haiti and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal.
“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to several people briefed on the meeting, referring to those predominantly black countries. He then asked why the United States doesn’t take in more immigrants from European countries, such as Norway.
Trump later said he is “not a racist” and denied that he used the derogatory term.
“No, I’m not a racist,” he told reporters. “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”
The new poll, conducted after Trump’s comments about Haiti, El Salvador and African countries, aimed to show African Americans’ disappointment with Trump’s leadership as Black History Month came to a close. It does: More than 9 in 10 black respondents disapprove of how Trump behaves as president, according to the poll, and more than 9 in 10 think the country is moving in the wrong direction.
About 45 percent of white respondents, on the other hand, applaud Trump’s presidency. About 35 percent of whites agree with the direction he’s taking the country.
About half of Americans — including a majority of African Americans — think race relations are worse now than they were a year ago, according to the poll.
Sixty percent of those surveyed say Muslims face disadvantages in American society, and 51 percent say the same for Hispanics. About 57 percent say Trump’s policies have further disadvantaged Muslims and 56 percent say his policies have further disadvantaged Hispanics.
This post has been updated to clarify certain demographic percentages from the AP-NORC poll.