House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said this week that Donald Trump’s comments impugning the partiality of the judge presiding over the Trump University case were “the textbook definition of a racist comment.”
A new Morning Consult poll shows that half of Americans agree with him.
In a national survey of 1,362 registered voters, 50 percent of respondents said the presumptive GOP nominee’s statements about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was born in Indiana to parents who emigrated from Mexico, were racist.
The respondents who declined to label the comments racist were more or less evenly split between saying that they are not racist “but still unacceptable” (19 percent), not racist and “acceptable” (16 percent), or they didn’t know or offered no opinion (15 percent).
Whether voters were likely to say the comments were racist was influenced heavily by partisanship. Three-fourths of Democrats said the comments were racist, compared with 45 percent of independents and 27 percent of Republicans.[table “159” not found /]
Among minorities, 73 percent of African Americans and 65 percent of Hispanics said the comments were racist. Just under half of white voters (46 percent) also identified the comments as racist, while 20 percent said they weren’t racist but still unacceptable.
As for partiality in the judicial branch in general, Americans by and large don’t think a judge’s ethnicity has a major impact on decision-making, especially when considering other factors, such as whether a judge was appointed by a Democrat or a Republican. Only 18 percent of voters said they thought a judge’s race or ethnicity would have a major impact on how they make their decisions. Almost twice as many (34 percent) thought the partisan leaning of who appointed the judge was a major factor.
It’s also clear that the controversy has been noticed by voters, as almost seven out of 10 (68 percent) said they had heard about Trump’s comments.