Daniel J. Hopkins and Samantha Washington, sociologists from the University of Pennsylvania, have been studying the racial attitudes of 2,500 randomly selected Americans since 2008. The researchers admitted that they expected to see a rise in racist attitudes under the current president so they were surprised when the results indicated precisely the opposite.
“Normalization of prejudice or opinion leadership both lead us to expect that expressed prejudice may have increased in this period, especially among Republicans or Trump supporters,” they wrote in the report. The study focused on anti-black and anti-Hispanic prejudice. Their expectations were based on extensive reading of recent literature in social sciences. The posited that racist attitudes may lay dormant until triggered by certain events. They thought that the election of Trump could be such a trigger. This was described in an article in Spectator USA magazine.
“Yet the study found exactly the opposite. Americans, claim Hopkins and Washington, have actually become less inclined to express racist opinions since Donald Trump was elected. Anti-black prejudice, they found, declined by a statistically-insignificant degree between 2012 and 2016, when Trump was elected. But then after 2016 it took a sharp dive that was statistically significant. Moreover, contrary to their expectations, the fall was as evident among Republican voters as it was among Democrats. There was also a general fall in anti-Hispanic prejudice, too, although this was more evident among Democrat voters.”
Similarly, the study investigated the possibility that the election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, would ease racial tensions. The study revealed precisely the opposite.
“The election of Barack Obama also caught liberal opinion unawares. That event, it might be recalled, was supposed to be the breakthrough which led to a kinder, gentler America. Instead, it seemed to be followed by a more fractious period in race relations, culminating in race riots in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014. Maybe social science has got it the wrong way round: it was the sight of a mixed-race man in the White House who brought out in the inner racist in Americans who are inclined towards those feelings, while the reassuring sight of white man back in the Oval Office has calmed them down.”