Most Americans believe Trump has worsened race relations since the killing of George Floyd: poll

President Donald J. Trump walks from the White House Monday evening, June 1, 2020, to St. John’s Episcopal Church, known as the church of presidents, that was damaged by fire during demonstrations in nearby LaFayette Square Sunday evening. | Official White House Photo/Shealah Craighead

Around two-thirds of Americans believe that the response of President Donald Trump to the killing of George Floyd has largely worsened racial tensions in the United States, according to a recent poll.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted last week found that 67% of respondents believe that Trump’s response to the Floyd killing has “mostly increased tensions,” versus 18% who believe it has “mostly decreased tensions” and 15% who were “unsure.”

Among white evangelical Christians, 40% said that Trump’s response had increased tensions, while 35% said it decreased tensions, and 25% said they were unsure.

The response also varied greatly among party lines, as 92% of Democrats responded that his response has “mostly increased tensions” while only 29% of Republican respondents agreed.

Further, 41% of Republicans said Trump had “mostly decreased tensions,” versus 4% of Democrats and 12% of respondents who identified as independent.

Of those surveyed, broken down by political, racial, economic, and educational lines, no group had a majority of respondents say they believe that Trump had decreased racial tensions.

The group most likely to believe that Trump’s response had decreased tensions were Republican women, in which 44% said that they felt he had. The rest were evenly split between saying he increased tensions and responding that they were unsure.

Data for the poll was drawn from a sample of 1,062 United States adults conducted June 2-3, with a margin of error of ±3.8 percentage points.

The poll was taken after the president made his controversial decision to walk over to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., and give remarks while holding a Bible.

In advance of his arrival, U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops cleared the pathway from the White House to the church, which included peaceful protesters, using smoke canisters and, according to some, tear gas.

Many, including Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, denounced Trump’s decision to be in front of the church, and the manner in which protesters were cleared out.

Budde said she did not “support the president’s incendiary response to a wounded, grieving nation.”

“In faithfulness to our Savior who lived a life of non-violence and sacrificial love, we align ourselves with those seeking justice for the death of George Floyd and countless others through the sacred act of peaceful protest.”

Trump has stated that Floyd's death will "not be in vain" and that America must "extinguish forever such racist abuse." His response to the rioting and looting, however, was denounced by some and censored by Twitter. Trump had called the rioters in Minneapolis who set fire to a police station, among other buildings, "thugs" and tweeted, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." 

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