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On most political issues, Americans are split, often along party lines. This was true before the inauguration of President Trump, but the hostility and tension of the 2016 race has drawn more attention to those divides even if they haven’t widened to any great degree. So when The Washington Post and our partners at ABC News poll on issues of the day, it’s not uncommon to find that while a majority of the country holds a particular view, Republicans and Democrats hold largely opposite views.
Our poll released on Monday assessing opinions of Trump’s reaction to the violence in Charlottesville is no exception. Most Americans disapprove with Trump’s handling of the aftermath of the violence. Most Republicans, though, approve.
The split broadly mirrors views of Trump’s overall job performance. Most Americans disapprove of the job Trump is doing, though most Republicans approve.
One issue in our poll, however, showed a widely shared opinion: Asked if it is acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, the vast majority of respondents said that it was not.
That 9 percent of respondents said such views were acceptable is certainly more than one might hope, but that more than 8 in 10 Americans reject those views — most of them strongly — is at least better than it could be.
Digging deeper into the numbers, though, there is a split that’s worth noting.
When we cross-reference views of Trump’s job performance with this question, there’s something of a split. Among strong Trump supporters, nearly 2 in 10 find white supremacist or neo-Naxi views acceptable to some degree. Among those who strongly disapprove of Trump, the figure was only 4 percent.
What’s more, 13 percent of those who strongly approve of Trump said that they had no opinion on the subject, which is somewhat hard to believe in this day and age.
When Trump was asked in February 2016 about support he’d received from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, this was the tack he took, arguing that he didn’t “know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.” He later disavowed Duke’s support.
Overall, of course, the vast majority of Trump supporters hold the position that white supremacist views are unacceptable, with 7 in 10 of those who strongly approve holding that position.
That 3 in 10 of his strongest supporters are less likely to find those views objectionable, though, may help explain Trump’s wavering response to the violence earlier this month. Or, given that we don’t know which way the causality flows here, perhaps Trump’s response helped influence these results.