Voters More Divided on Race and Gender Than in 2016, Poll Shows

Azia Toussaint, left, participates in the painting of Black Lives Matter mural on New York City’s Fifth Avenue in front of Trump Tower in July. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

(CN) — The divide between Democrats and Republicans on questions of race and gender has grown since the 2016 presidential election, according to a Pew Research Center report published Thursday.

Researchers polled a panel of 11,001 adults in the U.S. — 9,114 of whom were registered voters — via self-administered web surveys between July 27 and Aug. 2, perhaps while nationwide protests over police brutality and racial inequalities still weighed on respondents’ minds.

While 74% of registered voters who back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said it is more difficult to be Black than white in this country, only 9% of supporters of President Donald Trump agreed. This 65% gap is much larger than the difference between Trump and Hillary Clinton voters in 2016, when the divide was only 46 percentage points.

A somewhat smaller divide exists between the 26% of registered Trump supporters who said “significant obstacles” still make it harder for women to get ahead than men, and the 79% of Biden voters who agree.

But this is also a growing, partisan divide: in 2016, 72% of Clinton supporters agreed with the majority of Biden voters on this question, while 31% of Trump voters concurred back then. In other words, the 41% gap between Clinton and Trump voters in 2016 has grown to a 53% gap between Biden and Trump’s supporters.

The voters were also asked whether they thought Islam encourages violence more than other religions. Four years ago, 63% of Clinton voters said it did not, a figure that grew to 74% among Biden’s base. But 16% of Trump voters who agreed in 2016 rose to 23%, resulting in a slightly larger 51% gap in 2020 compared to 2016’s divide of 47 percentage points.

On immigration, however, little has changed: 84% of registered voters siding with Biden said that “newcomers strengthen American society,” while only 32% of Trump’s 2020 voters agreed. This 52% gap is the same as 2016’s divide between the 71% of Clinton’s voters and 19% of Trump’s voters who concurred.

Overall, 43% of American adults believe that it is “a lot more difficult” to be Black in the U.S. than to be white. This is a notable increase compared to the overall response from respondents four years ago, only 34% of whom concurred.

All respondents were asked whether they more agree with the statement that “the obstacles that once made it harder for women than men to get ahead are now largely gone” or the statement that “significant obstacles” still make it harder for women to get ahead than men.

In 2016, 45% of all respondents agreed with the first sentiment, while only 53% agreed with the latter. The 2020 results hardly changed: 43% said that obstacles for women are now largely gone, while 55% of all respondents said there are still major obstacles blocking women’s progress.

The data was collected from Pew’s American Trends Panel, whose 11,000-plus active participants provide the “principal source of data for U.S. public opinion research,” according to the nonpartisan research organization.

Results based on the full sample have a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points. Results from respondents who lean or fully support Trump are accurate plus-or-minus 2.4 percentage points, while questions posed only to those who at least lean toward supporting Biden have a 2 percentage point margin of error.

Panelists who did not have home internet access were given a tablet and wireless connection to complete the survey, and interviews were conducted in both English and Spanish.

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