It has been over a month since reality-TV-star-turned-president-elect Donald Trump emerged victorious in the race for the White House. Since then, many have blamed the government’s blind eye to the plight of poor, working-class white Americans for ultimately putting Trump in place as the nation’s next Commander in Chief.
A new HuffingtonPost/YouGov survey released Monday honed in on America’s renewed focus on the “plight” of disadvantaged white people, while highlighting stark contrasts in the public’s perception of Black Americans’ struggles.
The poll pointed out how African-Americans are often seen as “whiners” who should simply pull themselves up by their bootstraps when they experience inequality and injustice at the hands of the establishment. This is in stark contrast to the perception of “average” white Americans, whose struggles are instead attributed to situational or outside factors such as the outsourcing of jobs.
Social psychologists call this double-standard mode of thinking an “ultimate attribution error,” as Black Americans’ struggles are often falsely attributed to dispositional traits like laziness or poor work ethic.
In an effort to quantify this double standard in empathy, research analysts recorded half of the participants’ response to the following statement: “Over the past few years, Blacks have gotten less than they deserve.” The other half of participants were presented with a similar statement, except the word “Blacks” was replaced with “average Americans” — a term psychologists have found to be implicitly synonymous with being white, the Huffington Post reported.
The results revealed a stark divide in the perceived deservedness of “average Americans” compared to African-Americans. For instance, a large majority of participants – 57 percent, to be exact – agreed that “average Americans” have gotten less than they deserved, while just 32 percent agreed with the statement when it pertained to Blacks.
The results were even more telling when examined along racial lines. Among white respondents, 58 percent agreed that “average Americans” have gotten a smaller slice of the American pie, while only 28 percent agreed that Blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
In contrast, 62 percent of Black respondents said that African-Americans weren’t getting as much as they deserved and 59 percent said “average Americans” weren’t getting what they deserved either.
The survey also broke down participant responses according to political ideology, with Trump supporters showing the highest levels of double-standard thinking when it came to who was more deserving. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of the president-elect’s voters said average Americans weren’t getting what they deserved; just 12 percent agreed that Black Americans were getting less than they deserved.
The gap between perceived deservedness of “average Americans” vs. African-Americans among Clinton supporters was much smaller. Respondents who voted for the former First Lady were equally likely (57 percent) to agree that both white Americans and Black Americans weren’t getting their fair share. Compared to Trump voters, Clinton backers also were 45 percent more likely to say Blacks have gotten less than they deserve.
Overall, the HuffPost/YouGov poll highlighted the fact that not only did Trump supporters feel that average, working-class white Americans had been left in the dust and forgotten, but also that Black Americans have gotten a bit too much over the past few years. Analysts suspect it was this sort of racial resentment that ultimately led “average Americans” to vote for Trump.
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