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Poll: One year after Charlottesville, majority of Americans see racial tensions on the rise

One year after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, most Americans feel racial tensions have grown over the past year, and partisans – as well as white and black Americans – divide sharply on how President Trump handles race relations.

A new CBS News poll conducted by YouGov finds 61 percent of Americans say that racial tensions have increased over the past year. 

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Majorities of whites, blacks and Hispanics feel this way, but blacks are especially likely to think so: 78 percent feel tensions have increased.

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Today, 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Mr. Trump's handling of race relations and racial issues, but these views – like many others on the president – are dramatically split by partisanship and by race. 

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Eighty-two percent of blacks disapprove and 73 percent of Hispanics disapprove. Whites are evenly split (49 percent approve, 51 percent disapprove) and views among them fall along party lines.

Overall, 83 percent of Republicans approve of the president's handling of racial issues, including 44 percent who strongly approve. And 90 percent of Democrats disapprove, including 80 percent who strongly disapprove.

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Americans are divided on how they read the president's intentions on matters of race. Forty-five percent of Americans feel the president tries to treat whites and racial minorities the same, including eight in 10 Republicans who describe his intentions that way. But 51 percent of Americans feel the president tries to put the interests of whites over racial minorities – including more than eight in 10 Democrats who feel this way.

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Seventy-three percent of African-Americans feel the president tries to put the interests of whites ahead of minorities, and 58 percent of Hispanics feel the president tries to put whites ahead of minority groups.

Americans who think the president tries to put the interests of whites ahead of minorities overwhelmingly say they disapprove of this.

Views on how the president handles race are connected to overall views of him, particularly for his political opponents. Six in 10 Democrats say the way that the way the president handles race relations matters a lot in their overall opinion of him, and they give him low marks overall. Republicans report little connection: only 18 percent of Republicans say the way that the president handles race relations matters a lot to how they evaluate him.

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More than two-thirds of Americans dislike the fact that the president criticizes sports figures, including most whites and blacks who dislike it. Sixty-five percent of Republicans do like it – one-third do not.


The CBS News 2018 Battleground Tracker is a series of panel studies in the U.S., This national poll was conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,238 U.S. adults between August 8-10, 2018. The margin of error based upon the entire sample is approximately 2.5 percent.

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  • Anthony Salvanto On Twitter»

    Anthony Salvanto, Ph.D is CBS News Director of Elections and Surveys. He oversees all polling across the nation, states and congressional races, and heads the CBS News Decision Desk that estimates outcomes on Election Nights. He is the author of "Where Did You Get This Number: A Pollster's Guide to Making Sense of the World," from Simon & Schuster, and appears regularly across all CBS News platforms. His scholarly research and writings cover topics on polling methodology, voting behavior, and sampling techniques.