Very few Americans will say outright that they support neo-Nazism, white nationalism or the so-called alt right. But that doesn’t mean they don’t express support for some of the same racially-charged ideas and attitudes that such extremists espouse. A new poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos with the University of Virginia Center for Politics in the aftermath of the Charlottesville rallies found what it called “troubling racial attitudes.”
The poll was conducted from August 21 to September 5, in the weeks following a “Unite the Right” rally, white supremacist marches and counter-protests on the University of Virginia campus and in downtown Charlottesville. Clashes broke out, and the scene took an even more violent turn when a car slammed into counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring at least 19 others. Most questions in the poll were asked of a large group of 5,360 respondents.
Only six percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat supported the alt-right, while eight percent said the same of white nationalism and just four percent of neo-Nazism. In the case of the alt-right and white nationalism, a staggering one-fifth said they neither support nor oppose the groups. As President Donald Trump found out when he failed to unequivocally condemn the same groups, middling responses can be interpreted as support.
“Let’s remember, there are nearly 250 million adults in the United States, so even small percentages likely represent the beliefs of many millions of Americans,” Larry J. Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center of Politics, is quoted as saying.
About 70 percent of respondents strongly agreed that people of different races should be “free to live wherever they choose” and that “all races are equal,” and 89 percent agreed that all races should be treated equally. At the same time, 31 percent of respondents said they strongly or somewhat agreed that the country needs to “protect and preserve its White European heritage,” while 34 percent strongly or somewhat disagreed and 29 percent said they neither agreed nor disagreed. Nearly a third of respondents failed to express support of interracial marriage—with 16 percent agreeing outright that “marriage should only…