What America's Thinking

Poll: Most Republicans think white people face discrimination, Democrats disagree

Voters of both parties overwhelmingly believe that black and Hispanic Americans encounter some amount of discrimination in society but partisans differ strongly on whether white Americans face systemic bias, according to a Hill-HarrisX poll released Friday.

In the survey, 85 percent of registered voters said that African-Americans face discrimination to some degree. That view was shared by 95 percent of Democratic respondents and 78 percent of Republicans. Eighty-two percent of independent voters agreed.

Partisans also broadly agreed that Hispanics face societal bias. Eighty-one percent of the entire sample said that Latino Americans experience discrimination, a view that was shared by 92 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of independents and 72 percent of Republicans.

Respondents were much more divided over whether people of European descent encounter bias in American society.

A significant majority of Republican voters, 75 percent, said that white Americans are subject to discrimination. Most independents, 55 percent, agreed.

Democrats differed strongly with only 38 percent saying that whites faced discrimination. Sixty-two percent of Democratic respondents said that European-Americans face almost no discrimination or none whatsoever.

Overall, 55 percent of respondents said that white people must deal with societal bias. White voters were much more likely than Hispanic or black respondents to agree. Sixty-two percent of white respondents said that European Americans experience discrimination while 38 percent said they face none or almost none.

"There's a healthy percentage of the population that will say 'well any group faces discrimination but that includes my group,' and even if that group in particular is white Americans," Robert Griffin, the research director of the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group said Friday on Hill.TV's show "What America's Thinking."

In the survey, a majority of Republicans saw discrimination against all major demographic groups including women, men and all religious denominations. Atheists were the identity group that GOP voters were least likely to see victimized by society but even then, 51 percent said that people who don't believe in God face discrimination.

Perceptions of discrimination against white Americans may also be driven by media portrayals rather than direct experience, Sophia Tesfaye, deputy politics editor of Salon.com told "What America's Thinking" host Jamal Simmons.

"The white Americans ... who do feel as though there's more discrimination against white Americans than there is toward black Americans do not say that they themselves have faced that discrimination, it's just a perception of this general hate that they haven't actually seen," Tesfaye said.

A 2017 poll commissioned by NPR found that 55 percent of white adults believed that the racial group experiences societal bias. Only 19 percent of white respondents said that they had personally been discriminated against, however.

The latest Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted from a statistically representative sample of 1,003 registered voters and has a sampling margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

-Matthew Sheffield