For obvious reasons, a poll that found that 20 percent of Donald Trump voters wish slaves hadn’t been freed after the Civil War got a lot of attention on Tuesday:
There’s some context here that makes the result a little—a little—less galling, though. The quote is from a New York Times op-ed that cites a YouGov poll of 2,000 Americans. In the poll, the question about freeing slaves is the 49th of 103 questions that respondents were asked. It also frames the issue in terms of the current controversy over executive orders. Here are the previous two questions:
And the controversial one:
(Also, to pick a nit, this seems to refer to the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued and took effect during the war, not after.)
So it’s a little bit understandable that people who weren’t quite paying close attention during a long poll and/or had just voiced their opposition to executive orders might give an answer to an executive-order question that made it sound like they were pro-slavery. In fact, YouGov’s own breakdown (see item 128) shows that 5 percent of black respondents told its pollsters that they disapproved of the order that freed America’s slaves. Are 2 million black Americans really pro-slavery?
None of this is to say that Trump doesn’t have significant support from racists—he does, and that’s fine with him. But it might not be literally true that 20 percent of Trump voters across the country are pro-slavery.